LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles City Council returns from a two- week recess Tuesday, and the major item on its first day back will be to decide whether to appoint Heather Hutt to fill out the remainder of former Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas' 10th District seat, following Ridley-Thomas' recent conviction on federal corruption charges.
Council President Paul Krekorian has announced his intention to have Hutt -- who had been filling the seat on a temporary basis -- appointed by the council to serve out the remainder of the unexpired term, which runs through December 2024.
When Ridley-Thomas was convicted March 30, his seat officially became vacant, and Hutt's stint as a temporary councilwoman also ended. Krekorian immediately selected Hutt as the seat's "caretaker," and at the same time announced his intention to have the council vote, in its first session back, to appoint her for the rest of the term.
That moment comes Tuesday -- but it comes with a measure of opposition, as some local civil rights leaders are calling for a special election instead.
Krekorian is opposed to that, saying it would cost taxpayers around $8 million.
"Heather Hutt has capably represented the district as the temporary appointee and I am confident she will continue to do so as the permanent appointee," Krekorian told City News Service.
"In a matter of months," he added, "the people of the district will have the opportunity to decide whether they prefer to elect her or a different representative in the regularly scheduled election. By contrast, a special election, which would cost taxpayers almost $8 million, could result in one person serving through the end of this year, a new person taking over in January, and another person starting a year later. That kind of instability, uncertainty and political gamesmanship does not serve the interests of the people of the 10th District."
Krekorian's comments came in response to a demand by Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, for a special election.
"The council must end the effective disenfranchisement and caretaker role it has assigned the thousands of residents of the district since Thomas' suspension," Hutchinson said.
"The council has a duty to return representative government to the 10th District -- not through an appointee it chooses but a special election that allows the residents, not the City Council, to have a full and total say in who should represent them."
A federal jury on March 30 convicted Ridley-Thomas of bribery and conspiracy charges, along with mail and wire fraud, stemming from his time serving on the county Board of Supervisors and accommodations provided to his son by a then-USC dean. He faces years in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 14.
Ridley-Thomas had been suspended from City Council in 2021.
Hutt was temporarily appointed by the council to the seat in September 2022. Prior to that, she was serving as caretaker while former Councilman Herb Wesson -- who was originally appointed to fill in during Ridley-Thomas' suspension -- was legally barred from performing his duties on the council and eventually forced to resign because of term-limit issues.
Hutt has announced her intention to run for a full term in the 2024 election.