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Paul Krekorian selected as Los Angeles City Council president

Los Angeles Councilman Paul Krekorian has become the legislative body’s new president after his colleagues unanimously voted for him on Tuesday, Oct. 18, to succeed former Councilwoman Nury Martinez, who resigned last week after audio surfaced of her making a series of racist comments.

Krekorian takes the helm during one of the most turbulent times in the council’s history. Martinez’s resignation has done little to mollify the outrage that erupted after recordings revealed a conversation with Councilmen Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León, during which she made racist remarks toward another colleague’s son.

Cedillo and de León have also faced pressure to resign and have been stripped of their committee chairmanships for making their own hateful remarks in the conversation with Martinez and a local labor union leader.

Krekorian said his presidency will be a “collective enterprise” that relies on the diverse backgrounds, experiences and viewpoints of his fellow councilmembers. He also rebuked Cedillo and de León for their refusal to resign.

“We just can’t allow two member who are in a position now of having dishonored their offices, by their decision or lack of decision, to hold the business of the city hostage,” Krekorian said. “We will continue to move forward as we have, overwhelmingly calling for their resignations.”

Alejandra Valles, chief of staff and secretary-treasurer for SEIU-United Service Workers West, demands Councilmen Kevin De León and Gil Cedillo resign and says labor will not be divided as labor leaders gather at Los Angeles City Hall on Tuesday, October 18, 2022. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Pastor Stephen “Cue” Jn-Marie, of Church Without Walls, demands Councilmen Kevin De León and Gil Cedillo resign on Tuesday, October 18, 2022 as labor leaders gather at Los Angeles City Hall. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Pastor Stephen “Cue” Jn-Marie, right, of Church Without Walls, joins labor leaders at Los Angeles City Hall where they demand Councilmen Kevin De León and Gil Cedillo resign on Tuesday, October 18, 2022. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Max Arias, executive director of SEIU Local 99, demands Councilmen Kevin De León and Gil Cedillo resign on Tuesday, October 18, 2022 as labor leaders gather at Los Angeles City Hall. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Anton Farmby, vice pres. of SEIU-USWW, demands Councilmen Kevin De León and Gil Cedillo resign on Tuesday, October 18, 2022 as labor leaders gather at Los Angeles City Hall. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Labor leaders and organizers gather at Los Angeles City Hall to demand Councilmen Kevin De León and Gil Cedillo resign on Tuesday, October 18, 2022. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

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While Cedillo and de León have apologized — as did Martinez — they have so far refused the cacophony calling on them to step down.

During the recorded conversation, the three council members and former President of the LA County Federation of Labor Ron Herrera — all of whom have apologized — discussed redrawing council districts in an apparent effort to dilute Black voting power.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the council directed staff to research ballot measures to create an independent redistricting commission and increase the number of council seats.

Krekorian was the only councilmember nominated for the presidency and received backing from all 10 councilmembers who were present. Cedillo and de León, as well as Councilmembers Curren Price and Monica Rodriguez, were absent.

Krekorian, who represents the Second District, is the third councilman from the San Fernando Valley to take become president, after Nury Martinez and now-U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla. District 2 covers a broad swath of the East San Fernando Valley, moving upward to a community adjacent to the Burbank Airport and taking in Studio City/Toluca Lake to the south.

As president, Krekorian will preside over council meetings and appoint colleagues to committees, which are responsible for making recommendations on many of the items that make their way onto the full council’s agenda.

Tuesday’s meeting was held virtually, with both Krekorian and Councilman Mike Bonin — whose son was the target of Martinez’s slur — have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days.

Yet, neither the virtual meeting nor Krekorian’s appointment were able to quell the growing tempest.

A week after protesters flooded council chambers, leading to multiple delays and a tearful-yet-resolute speech by Bonin on Wednesday, Oct. 12 — and a Friday meeting to be canceled — more protesters gathered at the doors of City Hall. They chanted “no resignations, no meeting” as they attempted to enter the building on Tuesday. Police armed in riot gear rebuffed the attempt and sealed the doors.

On the steps of City Hall, meanwhile, a coalition of SEIU labor leaders gathered for a press conference and joined the calls for Cedillo and De Leon to resign.

“For our city to progress and for working class people to thrive, we must bring all Angelenos: Black, Brown, indigenous, White, LGBTQ all together,” said David Huerta, president of California SEIU State Council. “To begin that healing and transformation, we need accountability from those leaders who betrayed the public’s trust.”

Related links

Acting LA City Council President O’Farrell strips Gil Cedillo, Kevin De Leon of their chairmanships
Will LA City Council’s fiasco lead to redistricting reform?
Mitch O’Farrell cancels Friday LA City Council meeting and urges Cedillo and De Leon to step down
Nury Martinez resigns her City Council seat amid deepening LA scandal
Leaked audio of discussion with LA City Council members includes revealing comments on redistricting

Despite the two councilmembers refusal to resign, the council moved ahead with two reform initiatives in an effort to create a more representative governing body.

The first is a ballot measure that would take the responsibility of redistricting out of the council’s hands to ensure the process is done without bias.

“What came out of the records we heard last week, in addition to the abhorrent racism and homophobia,” said Councilwoman Nithya Raman, “was clear evidence that our city’s redistricting process was manipulated for personal political gain.

“Moving forward with this independent redistricting commission in the City Charter,” she added, “will definitely move us one step closer to restoring Angelenos’ confidence in their city.”

The second is a ballot measure to change the City Charter to increase the number of representatives on the currently 15-seat council.

When the council was initially formed in 1925, the city had fewer than 1 million residents, said Councilman Mitch O’Farrrell. The city’s population is currently around 4 million. The charter reform ballot initiative would ensure that representation is fixed to population growth.

Both potential measures would be placed on the 2024 ballot.

Krekorian praised the council’s passing of both motions as “good first steps” in restoring public trust in elected officials.

“We have to commit ourselves to setting aside the differences that divide us, setting aside the idea that we serve a faction or a group or a neighborhood at the expense of others,” Krekorian said. “Los Angeles can’t afford that kind of thing.”

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