The conviction of former Los Angeles politician Mark Ridley-Thomas on federal corruption charges leaves the Los Angeles City Council with doubts about the future of the seat he once held on the panel.
Heather Hutt has been filling in for the District 10 representative on a temporary basis while the legal process unfolds. She looks like she’ll keep doing it, for now, with a few tweaks.
City Council Speaker Paul Krekorian announced Thursday night, hours after Ridley-Thomas was convicted of bribery and conspiracy and other charges, that he wants the council to appoint Hutt to fill out the remainder of Ridley’s term. -Thomas which runs through December 2024. Krekorian asked the council to consider the appointment at its next meeting, scheduled for April 11 after a recess.
Krekorian formally declared the position vacant and appointed Hutt to fill the role of “caretaker”.
“While the federal legal process continues, and Mr. Ridley-Thomas may choose to exercise his right to appeal, his position has nonetheless been vacated as a matter of law, as provided by Section 207(a) of the Charter of the City of Los Angeles”, Krekorian said in a statement Thursday night. “While the charges against Mr. Ridley-Thomas were pending, the Council appointed Heather Hutt to serve as Councilmember for District 10 ‘while the temporary vacancy exists.’ Because the vacancy in this position is no longer temporary but permanent, Ms. Hutt’s temporary appointment is no longer in effect and the Board must decide what action, if any, to take to address this vacancy.”
Ridley-Thomas, 68, of South Los Angeles, faced federal charges of conspiracy and bribery, and multiple counts of honest services mail and wire fraud. Sentencing is scheduled for April 14. Ridley-Thomas was suspended from the City Council in 2021.
Hutt was temporarily appointed by the council to the position in September 2022. Prior to that, she was serving as a caretaker while former councilman Herb Wesson, who was originally appointed to replace her during Ridley-Thomas’ suspension, was legally barred from acting. her duties on the board and
he eventually had to resign due to term limit issues.
A nonvoting caretaker does not hold a council seat, but oversees the council office to make sure the district provides services to constituents and other basic functions.
Hutt has announced his intention to run for a full term in the 2024 election.
United States Attorney Martin Estrada speaks outside of court after sentencing on Thursday, March 30, 2023.
Los Angeles Council colleagues react to sentencing of Mark Ridley-Thomas
Several of Ridley-Thomas’s board colleagues issued statements about the disappearance of a giant figure in Los Angeles politics.
The charges stem from what prosecutors called a quid pro quo agreement between Ridley-Thomas and a former director of the USC School of Social Work, with the politician accused of diverting county contracts to the school in exchange for benefits. for Ridley-Thomas’ son, former Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas.
“I am deeply saddened that a career of extraordinary achievement and public service has come to an end in this manner. Mr. Ridley-Thomas leaves an irrefutable legacy of leadership, activism and effective policy making that have shaped our city, county and state”. Krekorian said.
Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson on Twitter he acknowledged the Ridley-Thomas verdict and the veteran politician’s long career and contributions to the community he represented.
“When those in power choose to forget about our community, Mark Ridley-Thomas centered us and lifted us up,” Harris-Dawson tweeted. “We are called to acknowledge this history in the days ahead as we move into the next steps.
Ridley-Thomas previously served on the Los Angeles City Council from 1991 to 2002, then served in the State Assembly and State Senate before being elected to the county’s powerful Board of Supervisors in 2008, serving until 2020, when he returned to Council. Municipal. .
Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas spent the last 30 years of his life as an elected official, from city council to Sacramento. For the past 12 years, he has been a supervisor representing Los Angeles County District 2, which includes the Carson, Compton and South Los Angeles areas. December 4 is his last day in the county before he takes office on the city council. Supervisor Ridley-Thomas speaks with NBC4’s Conan Nolan about one of his latest board decisions: the controversial issue of banning outdoor dining for three weeks. He passionately explains why he voted the way he did. In addition, he looks back on some of his most important accomplishments while on the board.
He has a Ph.D. in social ethics from USC and spent 10 years as executive director of the Greater Los Angeles South Christian Leadership Conference, beginning in 1981.
Councilman Bob Blumenfield said in a statement: “I am disappointed and saddened by the reality that he is the third City Council colleague to plead guilty to corruption or be found guilty,” referring to former councilmen José Huizar and Mitchell Englander.
“It further tears the fabric of trust in local public officials,” Blumenfield added. “I am also saddened that this verdict ignominiously ends the career and tarnishes the legacy of a man who had been a trailblazer, icon and effective legislator for many years.”
Council member Mike Bonin said“The Mark Ridley-Thomas I know is the tireless champion, the relentless defender, the unstoppable force. The things he’s accomplished can’t be erased, and the fights he’s won can’t be undone.”
Ridley-Thomas’ conviction comes less than a week before a special election in Council District 6 to fill the vacant seat once held by Nury Martinez, who resigned after audio leaked that included racist comments about the young black son of a classmate. Seven candidates are running for the position representing the San Fernando Valley.
His term expired in December 2024.