LA City Council

Heather Hutt to Finish Remainder of Mark Ridley-Thomas' Term on LA City Council

The outcome of the federal corruption trial of a giant figure in Los Angeles politics left the City Council with some decisions to make about the District 10 seat.

Heather Hutt, right, is pictured Tuesday April 11, 2023 at Los Angeles City Hall.

Heather Hutt was appointed Tuesday to serve out the remainder of Mark Ridley-Thomas' term on the Los Angeles City Council.

The longtime Los Angeles politician was convicted earlier this month on federal corruption charges. Hutt has been filling in for the District 10 representative on a temporary basis as the legal process played out.

Her appointment was finalized Tuesday on an 11-1 vote. Hutt spoke through tears during the meeting.

"It is not an easy place to be, but with all the support that we get here, I'll continue to do the work," Hutt said. "I signed
up to do the work and my mom raised us to work for our people. I just want to say thank you.

"And now I'm going to put my glasses on, and let's get to work."

Ridley-Thomas was convicted of bribery and conspiracy, and other charges. Hutt will fill out the remainder of Ridley-Thomas' unexpired term that runs until December 2024.

Sentencing for Ridley-Thomas, 68, of South Los Angeles, is scheduled for April 14. Ridley-Thomas was suspended from City Council in 2021.

Hutt was temporarily appointed by the council to the seat in September 2022. Prior to that, she was serving as caretaker while former Councilman Herb Wesson -- who was originally appointed to fill in during Ridley-Thomas' suspension -- was legally barred from performing his duties on the council and eventually had to resign because of term-limit issues.

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.

Hutt has announced her intention to run for a full term in the 2024 election.

Mayor Karen Bass issued a statement stating that she looks forward to continuing to work with Hutt to confront critical issues in the city.

"Councilmember Hutt has a track record of exemplary public service and I know the people of the 10th City Council District will benefit from her continued leadership,'' Bass said.

There was some vocal opposition at Tuesday's meeting from constituents, including local civil rights leaders, who wanted the city to call for an immediate special election. Cuncilwoman Monica Rodriguez was the lone 'no' vote.

"It's really problematic for me that we find ourselves in this conversation again, and I understand how frustrating and upsetting it is for residents of the district,'' Rodriguez said. "I understand because what disenfranchised communities look like are no different than what we see in Council District 6, right now. But we are honoring a process in Council
District 6 with democracy, with a special election for the people to be afforded opportunity to select and elect their representative.''

In response to Rodriguez's comments, Krekorian said the circumstances prompting the special election in the Sixth District is different from the events that unfolded following Ridley-Thomas' indictment and the vacancy of his seat.

Ridley-Thomas previously served on the Los Angeles City Council from 1991-2002, then serving in the state Assembly and state Senate before he was elected to the powerful county Board of Supervisors in 2008, serving until 2020, when he returned to the City Council.

He has a doctorate in social ethics from USC and spent 10 years as executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles, beginning in 1981.

Ridley-Thomas' conviction came less than a week before a special election in Council District 6 to fill the vacated seat once held by Nury Martinez, who resigned over leaked audio that included racist remarks about a colleagues young Black son. Seven candidates are running for the seat representing the San Fernando Valley.

Her term was set to expire in December 2024.

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