The conviction of the former Los Angeles politician, Mark Ridley-Thomasaccused of federal corruption, leaves the Los Angeles City Council with doubts about the future of the position he once held.
Heather Hutt temporarily replaced the representative of District 10 while the legal proceedings unfold. It looks like it will continue to do so, for now, with a few tweaks.
City Council Speaker Paul Krekorian announced late Thursday, hours after Ridley-Thomas was found guilty of bribery and conspiracy and other charges, that he wanted the council to appoint Hutt to fill the rest of the Ridley-Thomas’ tenure, which runs until December 2024.
Krekorian asked the board to consider the nomination at its next meeting, scheduled for April 11 after a suspension.
Krekorian officially declared the position vacant and appointed Hutt to fill the “custodian” role.
“While the federal court proceeding continues, Mr. Ridley-Thomas may elect to exercise his right of appeal, his position has nonetheless been vacated at law, as provided for in Section 207(a) of the Charter of the city of Los Angeles,” Krekorian said in a statement late Thursday.
“While the charges against Mr. Ridley-Thomas were pending, the Board appointed Heather Hutt to serve as a member of the District 10 Council ‘while the temporary position exists.’ As the vacancy in this position is no longer temporary but permanent, the temporary appointment of Ms. Hutt is no longer in effect and the Board must decide what action, if any, should be taken to fill this vacancy.”
Ridley-Thomas, 68, of South Los Angeles, faced federal charges of conspiracy and bribery, as well as multiple counts of honest services mail and wire fraud. Judgment is scheduled for April 14.
Ridley-Thomas was suspended from the city council in 2021 and Hutt was temporarily appointed by the council to the post in September 2022.
Ridley-Thomas’ motion to suspend was filed Tuesday by Board Chairman Nury Martinez.
Prior to that, she served as a caretaker while former councilor Herb Wesson, who was originally appointed to replace her during Ridley-Thomas’ suspension, was legally barred from serving on the council and eventually had to resign due to term limit issues.
A non-voting custodian does not hold a council seat, but oversees the council office to ensure the district provides constituent services and other basic functions.
Hutt has announced his intention to run for a full term in the 2024 election.
A federal investigation leads to serious charges against one of Los Angeles’ oldest and best-known politicians. Mark Ridley Thomas is charged with corruption.
Los Angeles council colleagues react to Mark Ridley-Thomas sentencing
Several of Ridley-Thomas’ colleagues on the Los Angeles City Council have released statements about the disappearance of a giant figure in Los Angeles politics.
The charges stem from what prosecutors called a quid pro quo deal between Ridley-Thomas and a former principal 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 ended in this way. Mr. Ridley-Thomas leaves an irrefutable legacy of leadership, activism and effective policymaking that have shaped our city , our county and our state,” Krekorian said.
Former Los Angeles City Councilman José Huizar today agreed to plead guilty to bribery and money laundering after receiving millions from property developers.
Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson on Twitter acknowledged Ridley-Thomas’ verdict as well as the veteran politician’s long career and contributions to the community he represented.
“When those in power choose to forget our community, Mark Ridley-Thomas centered us and lifted us up,” Harris-Dawson tweeted. “We are called to recognize this story in the coming days as we take the next steps.”
Ridley-Thomas previously served on the Los Angeles City Council from 1991 to 2002, then in the State Assembly and State Senate before being elected to the powerful County Board of Supervisors in 2008, serving until in 2020, when he returned to the city council.
Mitch Englander has pleaded guilty to charges of obstructing federal justice as part of a larger FBI investigation into corruption at Los Angeles City Hall.
He holds a doctorate in social ethics from USC and spent 10 years as executive director of the Greater Los Angeles South Christian Leadership Conference, beginning in 1981.
“I am disappointed and saddened that he is the third fellow City Council member to plead or be convicted of bribery,” Councilman Bob Blumenfield said in a statement, 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 brings to an ignominious end the career and tarnishes the legacy of a man who was a pioneer, an icon and an effective legislator for many years.”
Hours before the announcement of Martinez’s resignation from the Los Angeles Council for the 6th District, people were calling for his resignation.
Advisor Mike Bonin said: “The Mark Ridley-Thomas I know is the tireless champion, the relentless defender, the unstoppable force. The things he has achieved cannot be erased and the battles he has won cannot be undone.”
Ridley-Thomas’ sentencing 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 an audio leak that included racist comments about the young black son of a classmate.
Seven candidates are vying for the position representing the San Fernando Valley.
His term expired in December 2024.