Heather Hutt Crowned...Again

Heather Hutt, who had served as an interim councilmember representing Angelenos in the city’s 10th district for nearly seven months, was appointed by the Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday, April 11, to finish out the term once held by former Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas.

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Hutt

The vote followed a lengthy discussion that included public comments from stakeholders who questioned whether the vacancy should be filled by an appointee who plans to run for the seat next year, or if a special election should be called to let District 10 voters decide who represents them.

The council voted 11-1, with Councilmember Monica Rodriguez casting the dissenting vote, to appoint Hutt, who was not present in during the debate or vote. She entered the room only afterwards.

“It is an honor for me to serve the people in the 10th district,” Hutt said in brief remarks as she joined the rest of the council around the horseshoe.

“It’s not an easy place to be. But with all the support that we get here, I’ll continue to do the work. I signed up to do the work. And my mom raised us to work for our people,” she continued, as she wiped away tears.

“I’m going to try not to be the cry baby, but I think I am,” she added as she fought back tears. “And now I’m going to put my glasses on, and let’s get to work.”

District 10 stretches from Koreatown in Central L.A. to Baldwin Hills, the Crenshaw District and Leimert Park in South L.A., where residents have gone about 18 months without an elected official representing them on the city council.

L.A. City Council President Paul Krekorian, who wanted the council to appoint Hutt to provide stability to District 10, said during a floor debate that not doing so would mean residents would go several more months without a voting representative working for them, while they awaited a special election.

“A vote against this motion is to take the voice of a quarter million people away” for at least another five to six months, Krekorian said.

“And haven’t the people of the 10th District been through enough?” he asked.

As soon as the council voted to appoint Hutt, members of the audience who took up three rows in the Council Chamber erupted into cheers and applause, while those who wanted a special election in District 10 booed.

The District 10 seat has been in flux since October 2021 when the city council suspended Ridley-Thomas following his indictment on federal bribery and conspiracy charges. The city council then appointed his chief of staff, Karly Katona, as a caretaker without voting powers to oversee the 10th district until February 2022, when the governing body appointed former Councilmember Herb Wesson as a temporary stand in.

But a judge later blocked Wesson’s appointment in response to a lawsuit challenging his eligibility to serve. Wesson had already served three terms on the council and was prohibited by law from further service due to term limits, those who opposed Wesson’s appointment argued.

Wesson resigned last August. In September, the council appointed Hutt, Wesson’s chief of staff, as a temporary voting member on the council.

But when Ridley-Thomas was convicted late last month, the District 10 council seat officially became vacant. Council President Krekorian immediately named Hutt as caretaker of District 10 and said he would ask the council to appoint her to serve out the rest of Ridley-Thomas’ term.

“The people of the 10th District deserve to have seamless representation in the Council without further disruption and disenfranchisement,” Krekorian said in a statement last month.

Krekorian has said a special election would cost taxpayers about $8 million and he opposed going that route, noting that the next primary election for the District 10 seat was set to take place next spring.

“In a matter of months, the people of the district will have the opportunity to decide whether they prefer to elect (Hutt) or a different representative in the regularly scheduled election,” he recently told City News Service.

But some called for a special election. It’s been about 18 months since residents in District 10 have had someone they elected. Appointing Hutt through the end of 2024 means another 20 months, or more than three years total, before District 10 residents can elect their representative.

Those who want a special election say that not having an election further disenfranchises voters in a district with many Black residents.

Some who oppose Hutt’s appointment have also raised concerns that appointing a person who plans to run for the seat next year gives her an unfair advantage.


District 10 resident Grace Yoo, who, like Hutt, plans to run for the seat in next year’s election, told the council that voters in Districts 6 and 12 were given the chance to elect their own representative when city council vacancies occurred in recent years — and that District 10 voters should be afforded the same power.

Yoo, an attorney who has represented abused and neglected children in L.A. County’s children’s court, said of the roughly $8 million it would cost for a special election, “Democracy is not cheap.”

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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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