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Paul Krekorian to Serve as President at a Rocky Time for LA City Council

Councilmember Paul Krekorian was elected to the role of Los Angeles City Council president Tuesday following the resignation of Nury Martinez over a recorded conversation with two other colleagues that included racist slurs.

The shakeup comes as Councilmembers Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo continue to face widespread calls to step down for their participation in the candid October 2021 conversation that also included a top county labor official. Martinez resigned from her role as president Oct. 10 before stepping down from the 15-member body Wednesday. De León and Cedillo have not publicly addressed their plans.

The council is not empowered to remove elected members, but has removed de León and Cedillo from committee positions.

Krekorian represents District 2, including the communities of North Hollywood, Studio City, Sun Valley and others in the central San Fernando Valley. He also chairs the city’s Budget and Finance Committee and was first elected to the council in 2009. He previously was a member of the California State Assembly.

The council also voted Tuesday to begin the process of placing a measure on the 2024 ballot or sooner that would create an independent redistricting commission for both the city and the Los Angeles Unified School District. The council also voted to explore a ballot measure that would increase the number of council districts in Los Angeles.

The moves both stem directly from the explosive recorded conversation, which focused on the council redistricting process before branching into racist attacks on the 2-year-old adopted Black son of Councilmember Mike Bonin.

On Wednesday, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, another Democrat, said he will investigate Los Angeles’ redistricting process, which could lead to civil liability or criminal charges, depending on what is found. The Los Angeles City Attorney also issued calls for a ballot measure on an independent commission to handle redistricting matters.

As for Martinez’s seat, the body’s president can appoint a non-voting caretaker. In this case, then-acting president and Councilmember O’Farrell ppointed the city’s chief legislative analyst to immediately assume the caretaker role. The CLA office helps the Council develop legislative programs, and provides budget analysis and research.

The caretaker can remain in the office until a new member takes office through an election or the Council president decides to remove that individual. The caretaker will oversee the operations of the Council office, which include constituent inquiries and requests, communications, personnel, payroll, office management, and working with City offices, O’Farrell said in his office’s statement.

The caretaker is not seated as a Council member and cannot vote on Council matters. Sharon Tso currently serves as the Chief Legislative Analyst.

O’Farrell’s statement indicated a special election might be held, allowing voters to choose a new member. Martinez’s term was set to expire at the end of 2024. It was not immediately clear when a special election would be called.

The year-old recording that captured racist slurs and a discussion about council redistricting was anonymously posted on Reddit, then taken down. It is not publicly known how the recording was made or even who else was in the room at the headquarter of a politically influential labor group.

The source of the recording “is a parlor game going on all over town,” former Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky told the Associated Press. “It may never be solved.”

No one at the meeting has spoken publicly about the possible source of the recording.

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