It has been a busy 72 hours in the City of Los Angeles and particularly in Los Angeles’ 10th Council District.
On Tuesday, February 22, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to appoint former council member, Herb Wesson as the interim council member representing the 10th Council District. The district had not had a voting member on the council since Mark Ridley-Thomas was suspended following a federal indictment on bribery charges.
However, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California filed a lawsuit in an attempt to block the appointment and reinstate Ridley-Thomas to the seat he was elected to the year before.
Prior to Wesson’s unanimous appointment, 11th Council District representative Mike Bonin had previously introduced a motion to delay the appointment. This motion failed, leaving Council President Nury Martinez’s original motion to appoint Wesson as the interim council member to be voted on and unanimously approved by the full council.
The council also passed a motion to have a study to determine the cost of a special election to fill Ridley-Thomas’ suspended seat; the results of the study will be brought back before the council at a later date.
On Thursday, February 24, SCLC-SC and Pastor William Smart, the organization’s president, had their day in court. The judge ruled that the council was within their rights to suspend Ridley-Thomas and that he could not assume the council seat.
The other part of the lawsuit called into question whether or not Wesson could be appointed as the interim councilmember to ensure that the residents of the 10th District could and would have adequate representation while Ridley-Thomas addressed his personal legal issues. Ridley-Thomas has pleaded “not guilty” to the charges and has vowed to vigorously fight the indictment.
Wesson, who is the former president of City Council and returns to District 10, where he has served for over 20 years, was not eligible to seek re-election in 2020 because of term limits. But it is unclear whether or not he was eligible to be appointed as the interim councilmember. The judge has allowed both SCLC-SC and the City to make additional arguments and will make a final ruling on March 17.
Wesson, who has already been sworn in to the position, is not allowed to participate in city council meetings until the judge makes a final ruling.
Once again, the 10th Council District is left without a voice or a vote on the 15-member Los Angeles City Council.