Los Angeles City Councilman Herb Wesson, who will surrender his council presidency next month to focus on a campaign for county supervisor, gave his final remarks as the leader of the council Wednesday.
Wesson, 68, has been council president for eight years. He will be succeeded by Councilwoman Nury Martinez, while Councilman Joe Buscaino will be the next council president pro tempore.
“When I was elected … I indicated that my presidency was not about me, that it was about we, that it was about us,” Wesson told the council. “And I indicated that it was time for us as a council to work together, recognizing that we could do more together and that it was time for us to sit at the grownups table and take our rightful place and become an equal partner in the running of this city, and I’m so proud of each and every one of you.”
Wesson attributed that success in part to having a good working relationship with Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office.
Martinez thanked Wesson for working with her to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 and for passing measures to curtail human trafficking.
“To me, you’re a man of action, a man of his word, a man of character, and someone who’s a problem-solver,” Martinez said.
The transition of power marks the end of the first black council president’s leadership and the start of the first Latina to serve in the role.
Wesson, who will remain on the council through the end of his term next November, told the council the greatest asset he had as president were constituents who “had my back,” but he also reminded them that the city’s residents are the voices they need to hear.
Councilman Paul Krekorian said Wesson was generous in helping fellow council members and supported them with a sense of “grace and humor.”
“I usually am not at a loss for words, but I am. When I first came into this chamber, you were a mentor,” Krekorian said, recalling the time he was tapped to lead the council’s Budget and Finance Committee. “What we were able to do together in pulling this city from the precipice of bankruptcy, it was great to fight shoulder to shoulder with you.”
Prior to his election to City Council in 2005, Wesson served in the Assembly from 1998-2004 and served as Assembly Speaker in 2002.
Wesson said during his time as president, the City Council became one of the most progressive in the nation.
“I urge you to continue to seek radical change because it’s going to take radical change to correct the wrongs that history, that governments have done to individuals in this country, in particular people of color and people who were poor and individuals that were women,” Wesson said.
Wesson urged the council to continue to try to get people off the streets and to continue to try to push for more mental health care services.
Toward the end of his outgoing speech, Wesson thanked his staff members, including his son, Justin, and all city staff members, saying they are the “glue that holds this city together.”
Wesson is running for the District 2 seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors held by the termed-out Mark Ridley-Thomas.
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