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Monday, April 15, 2024

L.A. City Council reappoints Heather Hutt to fill Mark Ridley-Thomas’ seat

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[Kim Sangjin, Korea Daily]
The Korean American community’s voice was insignificant. It was silenced.

The Los Angeles City Council has reappointed Heather Hutt to Council, ignoring the voices of District 10 voters who called for a special election.

On the morning of April 11, 12 days after the conviction of former Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas (MRT), the Council voted to reappoint Hutt to Council, with 11 of the 12 members present voting in favor. Councilmember Monica Rodriguez (District 7) was the lone dissenter.

The meeting, chaired by Council President Paul Krekorian, took nearly two hours of the public’s comment.

“We’re not here to endorse a specific candidate, but we’re here to say that voters should be able to choose their own representatives for the districts where Korean-American neighborhoods are located,” said a Korean-American who spoke. “If councilmembers get to keep their seats for more than two years by the vote of the Council, there’s no way to explain democracy to our children.”

“It’s a matter of fairness, and if there needs to be someone to appoint, it should be someone of a neutral party, not Hutt, who has already decided to run,” said Grace Yu.

But the council chamber was soon filled with supporters of Hutt.

“The district is better off under Hutt’s representation, so why spend money on a special election,” said a dozen or so speakers who identified themselves as Hutt supporters.

Hutt’s family and about 30 supporters occupied one side of the council chambers, applauding Hutt’s support and booing those calling for a special election.

The city manager and Councilmember Karen Price (District 9), who spearheaded the initiative, praised Hutt’s efforts and activism, and said it was not right to spend millions of dollars on a special election. When asked about the long duration of not having a councilmember in office, both councilmembers responded with a wacky response, “If you want to be in next year’s election, you have to start campaigning now.”

But unlike most councilmembers, Councilmember Monica Rodriguez used her 10 minutes to push back.

“Today’s decision is about more than Acting Mayor Hutt’s competence – it’s about transparency. It is anti-democratic for the second largest city in the United States to fail to ensure that voters in their districts are represented. The excuse is that it costs money. The City Council has the money, and they can decide to protect voting rights. Today’s proposal is completely wrong.”

Council leadership proceeded to vote without further discussion or reconsideration.

Candidate Grace Yu and the several Korean- American candidates who were present to speak in protest eventually left the room.


BY INSEONG CHOI [support@koreadaily.com]