Councilman Herb Wesson bid farewell this week to the Los Angeles City Council, and Wesson was termed out.
Wesson thanked everyone in Los Angeles including those who criticized or said hurtful things to him. He even thanked the children who used to beat him up in his native city of Cleveland because he said those experiences made him “tough.”
“Even though this is a bittersweet moment because I’m going to have to leave, I am finalizing the last touches on this chapter in my life,” said Wesson, a member of the council since 2005 and council president from 2011-19.
“I have had a wonderful life. Now, that’s not to say that life isn’t hard. That’s not to say that life isn’t challenging, but I’ve had a wonderful luck. Don’t cry for me. Do not be sad for me.”
A video was played of Wesson’s career on the council, and members took turns listing his accomplishments, which included criminal justice reform, the creation of the Office of Racial Equity and his efforts to address homelessness as well as tackling the after-effects of the “war on drugs,” which disproportionately jailed many people of color when it was in full force.
Wesson also highlighted his efforts to raise the minimum wage in Los Angeles.
“I’m here for a friend, a brother, a compatriot, a comrade and as you just saw in this video, somebody who literally is part of the foundation of our city,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti, who joined the council meeting remotely to honor Wesson.
“Herb Wesson, I want to thank you for the gifts you’ve given me and my team.”
Wesson, the first Black Los Angeles City Council president, said one of his grandchildren had to do a report on Black history and decided to write about their grandfather.
“How many people will have that opportunity?” he said.
Wesson requested that he be brought back to the Council Chamber for an “honorary vote” when the motion to establish teams of unarmed experts to respond with or instead of police officers to nonviolent emergency calls.
Wesson represented Council District 10, which includes Koreatown, Arlington Heights, West Adams Heights and Sugar Hill. He will be succeeded by Mark Ridley-Thomas, who had represented District 8 from 1991-2002.
Wesson unsuccessfully sought to succeed Mark Ridley-Thomas in the Second District seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, but was defeated by Holly Mitchell.