LAT: How all 15 L.A. City Council members have responded to the racist leaked audio

LAT: How all 15 L.A. City Council members have responded to the racist leaked audio


OCT. 13, 2022 3:15 PM PT

The Los Angeles City Council is in crisis. Secretly recorded audio revealed three council members — Nury Martinez, Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo, along with a local labor leader who has now resigned — engaged in a racist conversation and the kind of slimy backroom politicking that we usually see only in the movies.

But not everyone pays close attention to local politics, so you can be forgiven if some of these names, terms and concepts are unfamiliar.

To start at the beginning, the L.A. City Council is the legislative body for the 4 million people living in the city of Los Angeles. That means one of its most basic functions is to create policy for the city, typically by passing ordinances. Martinez led the council as its president.

The council’s ordinances are approved or rejected by the city’s elected mayor. Currently, that’s Eric Garcetti, but there’s a big election next month to pick the person who will succeed him. (Cedillo, meanwhile, lost his reelection bid in the June primary and will leave office in December if he doesn’t resign first.)

November’s election makes all of the revelations and resignations, potential and actual, an even bigger deal. A lot of new leaders will be taking office when many current officeholders’ terms end in December.

Here is some background on L.A.'s 15 council members (Martinez resigned Wednesday, so technically there are 14 members now) and their statuses.

Gil Cedillo

Gil Cedillo, center, at Tuesday Los Angeles City Council meeting

District 1

Status: Under fire; lame duck.

Who is he? Cedillo has represented District 1 — which includes all or parts of Lincoln Heights, MacArthur Park, Mount Washington, Echo Park and Highland Park — since 2013. He lost his bid for reelection in the June primary to Eunisses Hernandez., who is due to take office in the second week of December. Before being elected to the City Council, Cedillo served in the California Senate and Assembly. He grew up in Boyle Heights and got his bachelor’s degree from UCLA in 1977, according to his online bio. He got a law degree from People’s College of the Law in 1983.

What has he said? Of the four people on the secret recording, Cedillo was not the most talkative — though his silence in response to the racist remarks and the comments he did make have been enough for many to call for him to resign. When contacted by the Los Angeles Times on Saturday, before the news broke on Sunday, Cedillo said: “I don’t have a recollection of this conversation.” Later, in a statement to The Times, he apologized for not intervening when Councilman Mike Bonin’s young son was talked about and said he failed in not holding himself to a higher standard. He also defended himself: “I did not make a racist statement, and I did not mock my colleagues.”

Paul Krekorian

District 2

Status: Seeking bigger role on the council.

Who is he? Krekorian has represented District 2 — which includes all or part of several San Fernando Valley communities: North Hollywood, Van Nuys and Toluca Lake — since 2010. Before that, he served in the state Assembly. Before entering public service, he was a lawyer in private practice.

What has he said about the secret recording? He called his colleagues’ comments “abhorrent and indefensible in any context” and signed onto a motion demanding that they resign. Krekorian has indicated interest in taking over as City Council president, now that the role is vacant. His pitch, The Times reported, is that the city is about to go through huge political changes — the arrival of a new mayor, city attorney, city controller and several new council members. The council, he said, will need someone experienced to lead through this “latest crisis.”

Bob Blumenfield

District 3

Status: Demanding resignations.

Who is he? Reseda, Tarzana, Canoga Park and other West San Fernando Valley neighborhoods are in Blumenfield’s district, which he has represented since 2013. Before that, he served in the state Assembly and previously worked on the staffs of senators and representatives in Washington, D.C.

What has he said about the secret recording? Blumenfield called on Martinez, De León and Cedillo to resign. “Each time I listen to any part of this tape, I’m sickened by the racist and hateful comments directed at the wonderful Angelenos we represent, as well as toward my colleagues and their families,” he said in a statement. He continued: “I can’t envision the Council moving forward with these members. This pain isn’t going away any time soon, and the healing process can’t begin without resignations.” He also signed on to a motion demanding they resign.ADVERTISEMENT

Nithya Raman

District 4

Status: Demanding resignations.

Who is she? Raman is an urban planner who was elected to the council in 2020. Before running for office, The Times reported, she was best known in her neighborhood for helping homeless residents get meals, showers and other aid. By the time of the 2020 election, the 39-year-old Silver Lake resident had become a powerful symbol for progressive activists, not just across the city but in other parts of the country, securing the endorsement of Bernie Sanders and favorable profiles from Vogue and the Daily Beast. She faced a recall attempt in 2021, but the effort failed.

What has she said about the secret recording? Raman quickly called for the resignations of her colleagues on the recording.

Paul Koretz

District 5

Status: Termed out of his council seat; running for city controller. Demanding resignations.

Who is he? Koretz has represented District 5 — which includes all or parts of Bel-Air, Westwood, the Miracle Mile and Hancock Park — since 2009. He has reached his council term limit and is now running for city controller. As chair of the council’s Personnel, Audits and Animal Welfare committee, he has faced criticism this year amid revelations of inadequate care at L.A. animal shelters. According to the bio on his website, he grew up in the San Fernando Valley — his father came to the U.S. after escaping Nazi Germany in 1939, settling in Argentina before coming to L.A. His mother fled the pogroms in Russia. Before being elected to the City Council, he served in the state Assembly and helped West Hollywood become a city in 1984, also serving on West Hollywood’s City Council.

What has he said about the secret recording? He quickly called on Martinez to resign and now wants De León and Cedillo to follow suit.

Nury Martinez

Nury Martinez in January 2020

District 6

Status: Resigned Wednesday.

Who is she? Read this comprehensive account of Martinez’s rise and fall by The Times’ Benjamin Oreskes and Emily Alpert Reyes. Another important read is this dispatch from Martinez’s San Fernando Valley district, by staff writer Nathan Solis.

What has she said about the secret recording? Well, here’s what she said on it. And here’s her resignation statement.

Monica Rodriguez

District 7

Status: Re-elected in June. Calling for resignations.

Who is she? Rodriguez in 2017 became the third Latina in the city’s history to serve on the City Council, according to the bio on her web page. She returned to work five days after suffering a seizure in her office in June. Her father was a farm worker as a youth, and he became an L.A. City Firefighter after earning his citizenship through his military service in Vietnam. District 7 includes much of the northeast San Fernando Valley, including Pacoima, Sylmar, Sunland, Mission Hills, Lake View Terrace and North Hills.

What has she said about the secret recording? After Martinez resigned, Rodriguez tweeted, “I thank Nury for making the difficult, but right choice to resign. I ask my colleagues Mr. Cedillo and Mr. de León to follow that lead so our city may begin the process of healing.”

Marqueece Harris-Dawson

District 8

Status: Demanding resignations.

Who is he? Harris-Dawson has represented District 8 since 2015. A South L.A. native, he graduated from Morehouse College in 1995 and joined Karen Bass’ Community Coalition, eventually succeeding her as president and CEO of the nonprofit in 2004. (She went on to serve in the House of Representatives and is now running for L.A. mayor.) Since joining the City Council, he’s been a driving force behind Destination Crenshaw, a planned open-air museum along Crenshaw Boulevard that’s currently under construction.

What has he said about the secret recording? Hours after news of the tape broke, Harris-Dawson called the actions of Martinez, De León, Cedillo and Herrera “inexcusable and potentially illegal.” (It’s unlikely that the meeting violated California’s Ralph M. Brown Act, however.) He spoke up several times in the days to follow, saying they had forfeited their leadership and calling for their resignations. “Every day that Nury, Gil and Kevin delay their resignations is another day Los Angeles can’t move forward,” he tweeted Tuesday. “We need them to do the right thing. NOW.”

Curren D. Price Jr.

District 9

Status: Demanding resignations.

Who is he? Price has represented District 9 — which includes South L.A. and parts of downtown — since 2013. Before joining the council, he served in the California Senate and Assembly. He grew up in South L.A. and got his bachelor’s in political science from Stanford University in 1972, then earned a law degree from the University of Santa Clara in 1976. In 2019, Price and other council members were investigated by the FBI in a corruption probe. A lengthy indictment of a former councilman that followed the FBI probe makes no mention of Price, and he has not been publicly charged. He was also scrutinized for conflicts of interest for votes involving his wife’s consulting company and for actions that benefitted campaign donors.

What has he said about the secret recording? “I think it has changed everything,” Price said in an interview with Politico. “It has disillusioned a lot of folks.” Price, along with a handful of other council members, introduced a pair of motions that would censure Martinez, De León and Cedillo. He also signed onto a motion that could increase the number of council districts in an effort to make the council members more accountable. In a city of nearly 4 million residents, each council member effectively represents more than 250,000 people. “Many of us feel that’s just too many people and too few representatives,” Price told Politico.

Heather Hutt

District 10

Status: Brand new to the council — what a first few weeks she’s had! She’s also calling for resignations.

Who is she? Hutt was installed on the City Council on Sept. 2 as an interim replacement for Mark Ridley-Thomas, who was suspended last year because he is facing federal corruption charges. Hutt had previously served as Vice President Kamala Harris’ political aide while Harris was a senator.

What has she said about the secret recording? Hutt was mentioned on the tape as a potential replacement for Ridley-Thomas. After Herrera said Ridley-Thomas’ replacement must support Martinez, Cedillo and De León, Herrera said “the one who will support us is Heather Hutt,” which was then affirmed by Martinez. Hutt called the tapes a “dangerous plot to weaken Black political representation” and said she had no prior knowledge of the conversation. “I reject any notion of impropriety as it relates to my appointment to the 10th Council District earlier this year,” she said Wednesday.

Mike Bonin

District 11

Status: Not seeking reelection.

Who is he? Bonin and his family were the targets of Martinez’s most incendiary comments. He decided against seeking reelection in January. Times columnist Steve Lopez spoke with Bonin after an emotional speech at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

What has he said about the secret recording? “There were parts of what she [Martinez] said that were utterly shocking, and there were parts that, knowing her, weren’t surprising at all,” Bonin told Lopez. “On these tapes,” Bonin said in his speech in the City Council chambers, addressing a crowd that showed him love and shared his indignation, “I have heard the worst of what Los Angeles is. From you I am hearing and I am seeing what the best of Los Angeles is.”

John Lee

District 12

Status: Demanding resignations.

Who is he? Lee represents a northern San Fernando Valley district that includes Chatsworth, Northridge and Porter Ranch. He was first elected to the council in 2019 and has lived in his district for 40 years, according to his online bio.

What has he said about the secret recording? He called on Martinez, De León and Cedillo to resign.

Mitch O’Farrell

District 13

Status: Acting council president.

Who is he? On the secret recording, Herrera brought up City Council candidate and labor organizer Hugo Soto-Martínez, who is running to replace O’Farrell in District 13. Herrera said the group needs to “protect Mitch.” District 13 is one of the city’s most diverse and includes Atwater Village, East Hollywood, Echo Park, Historic Filipinotown, Silver Lake, Thai Town, Westlake, Wilshire Center and Windsor Square.

What has he said about the secret recording? O’Farrell chaired the City Council meeting Tuesday and said, “There are no excuses. The court of public opinion has rendered a verdict, and the verdict is they all must resign.” He also tweeted that De León and Cedillo should follow Martinez and resign. O’Farrell’s spokesman said he will designate the office of the chief legislative analyst, which advises the council on policy matters, as the nonvoting caretaker of Martinez’s vacant District 6 seat.

Kevin de León

Kevin de León at Tuesday's City Council meeting

District 14
Status: Under fire.

Who is he? Before entering politics, De León taught English and history to immigrants. He was also a labor organizer. He served in the California Senate and Assembly and was elected to the City Council in 2020. He ran for L.A. mayor this year, but came in third in the June primary with about 8% of the vote (behind Bass and Rick Caruso).

What has he said about the secret recording? Here’s what he said on the recording. He has apologized: “There were comments made in the context of this meeting that are wholly inappropriate; and I regret appearing to condone and even contribute to certain insensitive comments made about a colleague and his family in private. I’ve reached out to that colleague personally,” he said, according to ABC 7. “On that day, I fell short of the expectations we set for our leaders — and I will hold myself to a higher standard.”

Joe Buscaino

District 15

Status: Not seeking reelection; dropped out of mayor’s race.

Who is he? Buscaino represents neighborhoods stretching from San Pedro and L.A.'s harbor north to Watts. He is a former LAPD officer who ran for mayor in 2022 but dropped out, endorsing Caruso.

What has he said about the secret recording? Buscaino on Monday tweeted a statement saying Martinez should relinquish her role as council president and hasn’t tweeted since.

How all 15 L.A. City Council members have responded to the racist leaked audio
Need a primer on what’s going on with the L.A. City Council? Here’s a quick look at who’s who and where all 15 council members stand.