The city’s 10th Council District residents will once again have a voting representative following the appointment of Heather Hutt to serve as interim council member, filling in for the suspended Mark Ridley-Thomas.

The Sept. 2 appointment came after a week of deliberations in which consideration of her nomination was initially blocked by five council members concerned about the speed of the process.

Hutt will fill the temporary vacancy unless the indicted Ridley-Thomas is acquitted or the charges against him in his federal corruption case are dismissed, or unless the vacancy becomes permanent. The council voted 12-2 to appoint Hutt, with council members Monica Rodriguez and Mike Bonin dissenting.

She is the first woman to represent the district and the first woman to represent South Los Angeles in a decade. She also becomes the fourth woman on the 15-member council, and just the third Black councilwoman in the city’s history.

“This is a historic occasion,” Hutt said after being confirmed. “I’m honored and I’m humbled to be in this space. As the first woman to represent CD 10 — although temporarily — and the first Black woman, I just want to put everybody on notice, I won’t be the last.”

Hutt was born and raised in the district. She lives in Baldwin Vista.

“I want to thank my colleagues for really putting in time and effort to be thoughtful about this appointment,” Hutt said. “To understand the needs of the people in CD 10, and knowing that having a voting member is the way to have their needs met.”

Hutt pledged to work “tirelessly” on issues, specifically on homelessness and to ensure that residents receive resources they need. She was previously the state director for then-Sen. Kamala Harris and a district director for former state Sen. Isadore Hall. Hutt has been serving as the 10th District’s non-voting caretaker and chief of staff for Herb Wesson. 

Wesson was appointed interim council member in February to replace Ridley-Thomas, but resigned last week, three days after a judge issued a preliminary injunction barring him from performing any official duties in response to a lawsuit challenging his eligibility.

That continued the uncertainty of who would represent the 10th District. Since July 19, the district, which stretches from Koreatown to Leimert Park in South Los Angeles, has not had voting representation on the council because caretakers cannot act as voting members.

James An, president of the Korean American Federation of Los Angeles, but speaking in his personal capacity, told the council that his group has been helping 10th District residents receive government benefits during the pandemic.

“We’ve seen a lot of pain and suffering in our community,” An said. “I am not here to specifically endorse any single candidate. However, I think everybody would agree lack of representation in the city results in a lot of bad things.”

Most of the council chamber was packed Friday with supporters of Hutt, holding signs that read, ”Heather Hutt Now” and, ”We don’t need a process, we need a vote.”

Hutt teared up while speaking, holding up a picture of her mother, who worked in City Hall when Tom Bradley was mayor.

“I’ve been a staffer for a really long time,” Hutt said. “I’ll learn to be a council member. I’m really excited and overwhelmed.”

Hutt promised she would work hard, be diligent and make herself available to constituents.

Council President Nury Martinez has acknowledged that a true democratic process would be for Ridley-Thomas to resign and a special election be held to fill the seat.

“We cannot do that,” Martinez said. “Our hands are legally tied atthis time.”

Instead, she made a motion two weeks ago proposing the council appoint Hutt. Five council members blocked considering the appointment at last Tuesday’s meeting, voicing concerns over the speedy process by which Hutt was nominated.

Our Weekly coverage of local news in Los Angeles County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support minority-owned-and-operated community newspapers across California.

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