LA City Council gives final OK for special election to replace Nury Martinez

The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday, Nov. 9, gave final approval to an ordinance that sets a special election for April 4 to fill the Sixth District seat that former panel President Nury Martinez held until she resigned last month amid the LA City Hall racism scandal.

The special election is estimated to cost the city up to $7.65 million, according to the City Clerk’s office. A runoff, if necessary, would take place on June 27.

Council President Paul Krekorian said the source of the funding would be discussed further in the Budget and Finance Committee.

The Sixth District — which includes central and eastern portions of the San Fernando Valley — is being overseen by a non-voting caretaker, the city’s chief legislative analyst, Sharon Tso. A non-voting caretaker does not hold a seat on the council, but oversees the council office to make sure the district provides constituent services and other basic functions.

The last day for interested candidates to file a declaration of intent to run is Dec. 12, according to the ordinance.

Martinez resigned after audio leaked of her uttering several racial slurs in an October 2021 conversation with other officials about city redistricting. Her term was set to expire in December 2024.

The other two councilmembers involved in the leaked conversation that spurred the scandal, Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo, have so far defied calls to resign.

De León’s term also expires in December 2024.

Cedillo lost his reelection bid to Eunessis Hernandez in June and will leave office in December. Krekorian has suggested swearing in Hernandez immediately if Cedillo resigns.

Recently, Councilwoman Heather Hutt served as non-voting caretaker of the 10th District for several months before being appointed to the panel last month in place of Mark Ridley-Thomas, who is suspended as he awaits trial on federal corruption charges. Previous fill-in Councilman Herb Wesson was legally barred from serving on the council.

In the leaked 2021 recording, Martinez and her colleagues discussed appointing Hutt to the seat, claiming Hutt would support them.

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Hutt, in a statement after the tapes were leaked, said she was not aware of the conversation before she was appointed and said she was “not a pawn.”

“The way they talked about the appointment process has sullied the appointment process, so if there’s any way to prevent us from having to go through that again, I think we do that,” Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawsonsaid after Martinez’s resignation. “The best way is to go directly to the voters.”

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