CMs Harris-Dawson, Rodriguez, Bonin, Blumenfield and Raman vote to delay Heather Hutt’s appointment as first Black woman to represent CD 10
Claiming to act in transparency, five members of Los Angeles City Council voted to delay the appointment of Heather Hutt as the temporary voting representative for Council District 10.
Councilmembers Bob Blumenfield (CD 3), Nithya Raman (CD 4), Monica Rodriguez (CD 7), Marqueece Harris-Dawson (CD 8), and Mike Bonin (CD 11) responded “nay” to the motion to appoint Hutt during the City Council meeting on August 30. As a result, the motion failed (since 10 votes were needed for approval and only nine members said “yes”) and CD 10 constituents are still without a voice and a vote on the City Council.
In the interim, the motion will now be vetted by Council’s Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee where Martinez serves as chair. Other members are Mitch O’Farrell (CD 13) and Joe Busciano (CD 15).
While the opposing Councilmembers stressed an intent to be “transparent” manner and hold “an open process,” community members interpreted the actions as being “undemocratic” by ignoring the wishes of the constituents. Hundreds of CD 10 residents sent letters, emails and phone calls to Councilmembers expressing a desire to have Hutt as a voting representative. Also, the Council chamber was overwhelmingly filled with Hutt supporters.
Still, the five members were not swayed and determined that they would not vote in accordance with the desire of CD 10 constituents. Naturally, community members were dismayed about the opposing Councilmembers’ stance and vowed to continue to back Hutt as the temporary appointment.
“I was deeply disappointed that five council members opposed hearing the consideration to appoint Heather Hutt at today’s council meeting,” said Brenda Ashby, CD 10 resident and an executive board member on the Crenshaw Manor Community Association as well as the Area 1 representative on board of the Empowerment Congress West Area Neighborhood Development Council.
“The reason given by Harris-Dawson, Bonin, Rodriguez, Blumenfield, and Raman was that Council should thoroughly explore, have detailed public discussion and consult with the City Attorney. Bonin rambled on about what a great job other cities are doing in their process. Blumenfield stated he hadn’t reviewed the motion and needed more time to look it over. Harris-Dawson, Rodriguez, and Raman seem to be wrapped up in getting the City Attorney involved before putting the motion on the agenda again,” said Ashby, who spoke in support of Hutt’s appointment during the City Council meeting.
“In the meantime, the residents of CD10 are still disenfranchised,” she concluded.
Council President Martinez, in response to repeated requests from CD 10 residents, put forth a motion on August 26 to appoint Hutt as the district’s temporary voting representative. If approved, Hutt would be the first woman and first woman of color to serve as CD 10 Councilmember.
Currently serving as the district’s caretaker, Hutt would fill the vacant seat left by Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas, who 10 months into his new term was suspended from office in October by the City Council following his 20-count federal indictment alleging bribery and conspiracy during his tenure as a L.A. County Supervisor. Ridley-Thomas has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.
Section 409 of the City Charter outlines the steps to fill vacancies for a member of the City Council. Following those orders, Martinez’s motion called for Hutt to hold the office through the end of Ridley-Thomas’ term. The motion also states that “Mr. Ridley-Thomas would be eligible to resume his elected duties if he is acquitted or the charges against him are dismissed.”
Martinez explained that she “chose to appoint a voting member instead of calling for a special election due to the potential Charter-crisis that could ensue if residents were to elect another Councilmember to the seat and Ridley-Thomas is cleared of all charges before his term is completed.”
While the next step in this intense saga is anyone’s guess, most CD 10 constituents agree with the assessment of Donna Jones, a lifelong resident, who believes the opposing Councilmembers acted without regard for the district’s residents.
“My feeling is that the motion to have Heather Hutt as our voting representative was interrupted unnecessarily because all of this could have been done months ago if Council had concerns about being transparent,” she explained.
“Now we’re back to the same position and all of a sudden, the City Charter’s recommendation was not good enough. The Council could have done all of this discussion before. It’s a waste of our community’s time and opportunity to be functional again!”
Acknowledging the passion and concern of CD 10 constituents, Hutt released a statement saying:
“I am humbled by the outpouring support of my colleagues, peers and the council members who had the faith in me to lead and do what is best for this district. Although I am disappointed with today’s decision, I will continue to fight to provide the resources and services our constituents need.
“As a resident of the 10th district, and a public servant for over 20+ years, I am committed to doing the work. I understand the complexities, diversities and challenges and I promise to work towards doubling down on our investments to house our unhoused neighbors, building parks that are equitable, safe and accessible, and making this a district that you are proud to call home. My hope moving forward is that the Council reconsider the needs of the residents of CD10.”
Council President Nury Martinez wasted no time following the procedural motion to remove the vote from the August 30th agenda and called for a committee meeting to discuss the matter on Wednesday, August 31.