Many say constituents should elect new member
The president of the Los Angeles City Council explained recently why it is best for Heather Hutt to be permanently appointed to fill the seat from which convicted Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas was removed rather than hold a special election to let voters decide their representation.
“Heather Hutt has capably represented the district as the temporary appointee and I am confident she will continue to do so as the permanent appointee,” said Council President Paul Krekorian in response to a request for comment from City News Service.
Krekorian plans to call on the council, at its next meeting, to appoint Hutt to fill out the remainder of Ridley-Thomas’ term. The council is in recess and is next scheduled to meet on April 11.
“In a matter of months, the people of the district will have the opportunity to decide whether they prefer to elect her or a different representative in the regularly scheduled election,” Krekorian said. “By contrast, a special election, which would cost taxpayers almost 8 million dollars, could result in one person serving through the end of this year, a new person taking over in January, and another person starting a year later. That kind of instability, uncertainty and political gamesmanship does not serve the interests of the people of the 10th District.”
Krekorian’s comments came in response to a demand for a special election by Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable.
“The council must end the effective disenfranchisement and caretaker role it has assigned to the thousands of residents of the district since Thomas’s suspension,” Hutchinson said. “The council has a duty to return representative government to the 10th District–not through an appointee it chooses but a special election that allows the residents not the city council to have a full and total say in who should represent them.”
Krekorian formally declared the seat vacant Thursday evening, hours after a federal jury in downtown Los Angeles convicted Ridley-Thomas of bribery and conspiracy charges, along with mail and wire fraud, stemming from his time on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors.
The charges are for what prosecutors called a quid pro quo arrangement between Ridley-Thomas and a former head of the USC School of Social Work, with the politician accused of steering county contracts toward the school in exchange for benefits to Ridley-Thomas’ son, former Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas.
Mark Ridley-Thomas faces years in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 14.