Herb Wesson knows his way through and around Los Angeles City Hall and on Monday, March 21, Councilman Wesson assumed his leadership role as the “interim” councilmember of the 10th District, replacing Mark Ridley-Thomas who was suspended by the Los Angeles City Council in October 2021 on federal bribery and embezzlement charges.
After the courts lifted the temporary restraining order allowing Wesson to be appointed as the interim councilmember for the 10th District, he hired former state director to then-Senator and now Vice President Kamala Harris as his new Chief of Staff. Also, Heather Hutt previously served as district director for Assemblymember and State Senator Isadore Hall before joining Senator Harris’ staff.
“Heather comes into this position, just as I do, with a commitment to bring the district together and to serve our community. She has years of experience in navigating the halls of administration and leading a staff to serve the constituents of our community,” said Wesson.
Elaborating on Hutt’s qualifications, he continued, “She rose through the ranks and became the only African American woman to ever serve in the capacity of statewide director for a U.S. Senator representing the state of California. Heather also knows the 10th, she has lived in the district for decades, she has raised her three sons within the district, and she understands the challenges that the residents of this community face each and every day.
“We are here to do a job and not play political games. Whether we are here for the next week or for the remainder of the year, our only desire is to do what is right for the people of the community we love so dearly,” stated Wesson.
Hutt’s appointment is also historical in that she is the first African American woman to serve as a Council District chief of staff since 1973 when now-Congresswoman Maxine Waters served in the same position.
Councilmember Wesson, who was cleared last week by the courts to serve as a temporary council representative, also moved quickly to remove Karly Katona, Ridley-Thomas’ chief of staff, and one of her colleagues, chief deputy Fernando Ramirez, who were both informed on the afternoon of Monday, March 21, by officials in the City Clerk’s office that they were being terminated immediately.
Katona had been serving as the nonvoting caretaker of the 10th Council District since Ridley-Thomas was suspended. Council President Nury Martinez appointed Katona is the caretaker and had said that she would reevaluate the situation at the beginning of 2022. The council voted last month to make Wesson the interim councilman for the 10th Council District.
SCLC-SC and other plaintiffs filed a motion with the court to stop Wesson’s appointment and to reinstate Ridley-Thomas. The courts ruled that the City Council was within its authority to suspend Ridley-Thomas, but also invoked a temporary restraining order until March 17 to look closer into the matter of Wesson’s appointment, which prevented Wesson assuming the position until a final ruling had been made.
The judge dissolved the restraining order on March 17, saying the plaintiffs first need to seek the sign-off of California Attorney General Rob Bonta. Her action opened the way for Wesson to undertake the role that he was unanimously appointed to by the L.A. City Council.
Other than Katona and Ramirez, as of Sentinel press time, no other staff members of the 10th Council District were terminated or replaced.
“Wesson met with the majority of the staff today and was very positive and upbeat. I guess he has the right to bring in his own team, but did say he was working to make the transition over to him as smoothly as possible,” shared a current staff member in attendance at the meeting, who asked to remain anonymous.