Former President of Los Angeles City Council Nury Martinez resigned on Wednesday Oct. 12, two days after stepping down from her powerful position as president of the council amid outrage over her ugly racist comments captured on a secret recording.
Martinez resigned under mounting pressure following the leaked audio from a 2021 backdoor meeting with Councilmen Kevin de Leon and Gil Cedillo and powerful labor leader Ron Herrera.
In the audio, Martinez is heard mocking the young Black son of Councilman Mike Bonin, calling him a “monkey” in Spanish, and making offensive comments about Oaxacan immigrants, Armenians, Jewish people and others. De Leon and Cedillo apologized for their roles but have not given up their City Council seats.
A slew of politicians, unions and community groups called on Martinez, De Leon and Cedillo to resign. President Joe Biden joined those calling for their resignations.
Before the racist remarks that ruined her career and reputation, Martinez was an admired leader who pursued important initiatives that impacted the lives of many.
Martinez was elected to the Los Angeles City Council in 2013 after Tony Cárdenas vacated the seat upon being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for California’s 29th Congressional District.
“When I ran in 2013, I wanted to see a change in my community and fight for my neighbors,” Martinez said in her resignation letter released Wednesday. “No one expected me to win, but with the support of residents throughout the district, I overcame that challenge and won the seat for Council District 6. I had the honor of serving in the role of a lifetime: being the representative for my neighbors.”
In January 2020, Martinez was elected by her peers as City Council president, becoming the first Latina councilwoman to serve in that position in the history of Los Angeles.
After the start of the pandemic, Martinez led initiatives aimed at assisting the unhoused, supporting low-income families and helping children access classes virtually.
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Over the years she advocated for women’s rights, helped lead the effort to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour in Los Angeles and launched a task force to support women who were victims of human trafficking.
She created the city’s first housing program for victims of domestic violence and survivors of human trafficking, Survivors First.
During the pandemic, Martinez worked with the state and city to partner with Project Roomkey and Project Homekey to add available beds in hotels and other buildings across the city, for the homeless and victims of domestic abuse.
Martinez advocated policies and initiatives to increase paid parental leave and pushed for environmental justice policies aimed at supporting low-income communities of color impacted by environmental pollution.
At City Hall, she chaired the Rules, Elections, and Intergovernmental Relations Committee and the Ad Hoc Committee on COVID-19 Recovery and Neighborhood Investment.