The community’s ardent request for a voting representative for Council District 10 has been addressed by Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez, who introduced a motion to appoint former Councilmember Herb J. Wesson, Jr. to represent Los Angeles’ 10th Council District.
Responding to the announcement, community members expressed relief and appreciation to have Wesson as the interim councilmember, and Wesson reciprocated those feelings.
“The 10th district is my home,” said Wesson. “I’ve been fortunate in my life to have served this community for over 30 years. I’ve truly been blessed, and most of my blessings come from people in this district. My neighbors have once again called on me to serve and it is my responsibility to answer that call.”
Gina Fields, chair of Empowerment Congress West Neighborhood Council, had long been lobbying for either the reinstatement of the elected representative, Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas, or the appointment of a voting representative. In her opinion, Wesson’s appointment is a good interim selection.
“We think Herb Wesson is the perfect guy for this position. He’s well respected in the community, he knows the community and can really hit the ground running, and we know he would really stand up for the community. We think he’s the right man to step in during this challenging time,” said Fields.
Echoing that viewpoint, Rashad Rucker added, “I think it’s a good idea. Herb, being the past representative, already knows a lot of the issues in the district and I’m in full support of his appointment.” A CD 10 resident for nearly a decade, Rucker previously served on the board of his neighborhood council and represents the Reimagining L.A. Foundation, an organization based in CD 10.
Wesson represented the 10th District as Councilmember from 2005 until December 2020. Before that, he started his career in public service serving as chief of staff to former L.A. City Councilmember for the 10th District Nate Holden in 1987. From 1998 to 2004, he served as the 47th California State Assemblymember and the 65th Speaker of the California State Assembly.
Wesson 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 Council after a 20-count indictment was filed in Los Angeles federal court for federal bribery and conspiracy charges stemming from his time serving on the county Board of Supervisors. Ridley-Thomas has pled not guilty and is awaiting a trial date.
“With over 30 years in public service representing the residents of Council District 10, there is no better choice at this time than former Councilmember Herb Wesson,” said Martinez.
“Mr. Wesson cares deeply about the communities he represents and knows the district better than anyone. The constituents of Council District 10 need a voting member who understands their community and their needs to represent them within council chambers.”
The motion states that “Mr. Ridley-Thomas would be eligible to resume his elected duties before the remainder of his unexpired term” following his acquittal or “when the charges against him are dropped.”
According to the Los Angeles City Charter, pending trial, the City Council may suspend any elected officer who has been charged with a criminal felony. The Council may fill a vacancy by appointing a person to hold the office for the portion of the unexpired term.
Currently, the district is being overseen by Karly Katona, Ridley-Thomas’ chief of staff, as the Caretaker. Katona was informed she would serve as Caretaker through the end of 2021 and Martinez would reassess at the start of 2022.
Initially, Ridley-Thomas’s trial date was tentatively set for December 2021, less than two months after his suspension. According to the motion, given the imminent trial date, the City Council delayed calling for an appointment to fill the seat for the office of Council District 10. However, after a joint request of Ridley-Thomas and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the U.S. District judge handling the case ordered the trial date moved to August 9, 2022.
The motion states that the City Council should appoint someone to hold the office of Council District 10 as a voting member to “directly represent the constituents of Council District 10 for such period as is likely sufficient for Mr. Ridley-Thomas’s trial to be resolved.”
Martinez met with residents and community leaders before announcing her appointment, many of whom suggested Wesson for the appointment. Melina Abdullah, who has lived in the district for a number of years, was among those voicing support for the former Councilmember.
“As a resident of the 10th Council District, I am confident and excited about the appointment of Herb Wesson to the City Council,” Abdullah said. “Herb knows this district and will give us back our voice on the City Council,” she added.
Grace Song, president of the 3.1 Women’s Association in USA, noted, “Herb Wesson has been a long time friend to the Korean American community and I believe he is the best candidate to serve as a voting member to the constituents of the 10th Council District.”