Nury Martinez resigns from L.A. City Council after audio leak

Nury Martinez resigned her seat on the Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday, in another sign of the huge impact that followed leaked audio of a racist and crude conversation with Latino political leaders.

“Heartbroken, I am giving up my seat for Council District 6, the community I grew up in, and my home,” Martinez wrote in a lengthy resignation message.

Martinez, who represents communities in the San Fernando Valley such as Van Nuys, Arleta and Sun Valley, told constituents that it has been a privilege to serve them. “I hope you stay committed and keep fighting for your fair share of the city’s resources,” she said. “It’s hard to say goodbye, but please know that I was in that fight for you.”

She also reached out to her colleagues, city workers, and other groups. “And lastly, to all the little Latina girls in this town — I hope I’ve inspired you to dream beyond what you can see,” Martinez said.

She concluded by saying, “While I take the time to look within and reflect, I ask that you give me space and privacy.”

The announcement comes days after The Times published a recording in which Martinez made racist remarks while speaking with fellow councilors Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo and union leader Ron Herrera about redrawing the city’s council district boundaries .

The October 2021 call focused on how the group could maintain Latinos’ political power while ensuring they and their peers have districts to help them win re-election.

Martinez is just the latest in a line of council members embroiled in a scandal. Last year council member Mark Ridley-Thomas was charged with bribery and conspiracy and suspended by his peers.

Councilor Jose Huizar was previously charged with racketeering, bribery and fraud – and suspended six months before leaving office. Councilor Mitchell Englander resigned in 2018 amid federal investigations. Englander was later convicted of plotting to obstruct a federal investigation into Huizar.

Huizar and Ridley-Thomas have pleaded not guilty and are on trial. Also on Wednesday, prosecutors announced that Huizar’s brother Salvador had agreed to plead guilty to providing false information to federal investigators.

Dan Halden, spokesman for incumbent Council President Mitch O’Farrell, said O’Farrell will appoint the Office of the Chief Legislative Analyst, which advises the Council on policy matters, as the non-voting administrator of Martinez’s vacant seat.

This process was relatively common immediately after a vacancy at City Hall. The council would have to decide whether to appoint a temporary replacement or leave him without a voting member pending a special election.

Gov. Gavin Newsom called Martinez’s resignation “the right move.”

“Even these comments have no place in our state or in our politics, and we all need to set an example of better behavior to live the values ​​that so many of us fight to protect every day,” he said in a statement.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said he recognized how “painful” a decision was for Martinez, but that it was the right one. He added that De León and Cedillo should do the same.

“Angelenos deserve a government that is directly focused on tackling challenges in their neighborhoods that are too serious to risk a paralyzed councilman,” he said in a statement.

In her resignation letter, Martinez described how her family had been her “biggest cheerleaders” and spoke of the sacrifices they made for her. Turning to her young daughter, she said, “I know I haven’t lived up to the expectations we have of our family lately. I pledge to you that I will strive to be a better woman to make you proud.”

The move came amid mounting pressure from all corners of the political spectrum, including President Biden, council members and many community activists. Herrera, president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, resigned on Monday.

Several council members said Wednesday that the departures of Martinez and Herrera are not enough.

“Two down. Two more,” Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson said.

Harris-Dawson said the council should not make any policy changes until all three members have left and the city can begin to move forward. Wouldn’t he actually appear in person at the council meeting on Friday? He wasn’t sure.

“We shouldn’t do business until these people are gone. It’s a mistake to do big bills like the good stuff that was tabled yesterday,” he said, referring to proposals at Tuesday’s council meeting to examine the city council’s expansion.

In the recording, Martinez specifically focused on council member Mike Bonin, who is white, and Bonin’s young son, who is black. Martinez once called Bonin a “little bitch” and referred to his son as “parece changuito‘ or ‘like a monkey’. She also said Bonin’s son misbehaved on a parade float and needed a “beat up.” But that’s just one aspect of the leak, which has sent shockwaves through City Hall and prompted widespread outrage and outrage.

The three council members can be heard expressing frustration at maps proposed by the city’s 21-member redistribution commission.

The recording remained private for nearly a year. The Times released details Sunday, just a month before a crucial city election, after the audio was posted to Reddit. It remained unclear who recorded it, who uploaded it and if anyone else was present.

Martinez had apologized several times in the past few days and announced on Tuesday that he would be given a leave of absence by the municipal council. De León said he regrets his actions and has “come up short”. Cedillo said he should have intervened during the call but did not make fun of his colleagues or make any racist remarks.

On Tuesday, Biden called on the three council members to resign.

“The President is glad to see that one of the participants in this conversation has resigned, but they should all do it,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, calling the language in the conversation “unacceptable” and ” terrible”.

Some LA City Council members responded to the anger by announcing a series of reform proposals. One would ask voters to increase the council in 2024. Another would set up a committee to look for ways to limit corruption.

O’Farrell, President-in-Office of the Council, announced his support for these proposals. Earlier this week he denounced what he called “the casual racism,” the “vile language,” the “dehumanizing racist reference” to Bonin’s son, the “denigration of indigenous peoples,” and “the familiar tropes against LBGTQ+ individuals,” uttered during the speech recorded conversation.

O’Farrell joined councilor Curren Price, who has expressed an interest in replacing Martinez as president, and three other city council members at a news event on Wednesday.

Price described Martinez’s resignation as “the beginning of the end of this nightmare” and said “accountability” was required.

“In order for us to govern and manage people’s affairs…Kevin and Gil must listen to their conscience, admit their mistakes, and do what is morally right,” he said. Nury Martinez resigns from L.A. City Council after audio leak

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