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Civics & Democracy

Nury Martinez Resigns From LA City Council, Hours After Public Outrage Shuts Down Session

Crowds carrying signs swarm inside the city chamber protesting and interrupting the session
Crowds gather inside L.A. City Hall protesting and interrupting the council meeting on Wednesday, October 12, 2022.
(Screenshot From LA City Hall)
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Nury Martinez has resigned from the Los Angeles City Council, just days after a leaked audio recording that captured her racist and disparaging remarks led to a growing cascade of calls for her to resign.

Martinez, in her statement, says she has a "broken heart" over the decision.

She had stepped down from her role as council president on Monday and said Tuesday she would take a leave.

"To my constituents —Serving you has been a privilege and one that I don’t give up lightly," she wrote in the resignation statement. "You are my neighbors, my friends, and the reason for this service...I hope you stay engaged and continue to fight for your fair share of the city’s resources. It’s hard to say goodbye, but please know that I was in this fight for you."

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She also addresses her rise in city politics, saying "no one expected me to win" when she ran in 2013. She notably was the first Latina to be elected council president.

In the statement, she does not address the controversy that led to this decision, other than to say to her daughter: "I know I have fallen short recently of the expectations we have for our family. I vow to you that I will strive to be a better woman to make you proud."

State Now Investigating L.A. Redistricting

Earlier in the day, prior to Martinez's resignation, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that he is launching "an independent investigation into the City of Los Angeles and its city council with regard to the city's redistricting process."

On the leaked audio, Martinez and two other councilmembers — Kevin De León and Gil Cedillo — are heard discussing how to maintain or increase their power and limit the power of other councilmembers, particularly in Black communities, by redrawing district lines.

The state's investigation into L.A.'s redistricting process could have major ramifications for the power structure in the second-largest U.S. city.

Martinez was not in the city council chamber earlier Wednesday, when public fury over the leaked audio continued.

Chanting “no resignation, no meeting”, people in the gallery yelled at the assembled 10 L.A. city council members to leave. A 10 member quorum — out of a total of 15 — is required for a city council meeting to take place.

Cedillo and de León were also absent from Wednesday's meeting. Cedillo, who is chair of the council's housing committee, also did not show up to lead its regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday afternoon.

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Both Cedillo and de León attempted to attend Tuesday's regular council meeting, but left before the session started amid pressure coming from the yelling crowds. Neither has announced their resignation.

Resignation Demands Continue

Politicians, faith leaders and civil rights groups have been demanding the resignation of all the three council members after an audio recording surfaced last weekend, in which they participated in a closed door meeting using demeaning and racist language.

After Martinez, stepped down L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said it was time for de León and Cedillo to go too. In a statement, he said:

“Nury made the right decision, one that I realize is painful to her personally but unquestionably in the best interests of a city that I know she loves. Racism and hateful words cannot ever be overlooked by our community or within one’s self, and she needs the time and space to reflect, make amends, and move forward with her life. Her two former colleagues must arrive at the same decision soon, because Angelenos deserve a government focused squarely on meeting challenges in their neighborhoods that are too serious to risk a paralyzed City Council.”

Another participant in the recorded conversation, Ron Herrera, now former president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, resigned from that post. He participated on the leaked call, along with Martínez, Cedillo and De León.

An Unruly Scene At City Hall

People sir cross-legged in the street holding protest signs
The scene Tuesday at L.A. City Hall. Protests continued at Wednesday's session
(Michael Flores

At the session Wednesday, Acting City Council President Mitch O’Farrell attempted to regain order, but 45 minutes later announced to the still chanting crowd, “we no longer have quorum. All items will be continued to Friday, this meeting is adjourned.”

It remains to be seen if 10 city council members will be in attendance for Friday’s scheduled meeting. On Tuesday, council member Mike Bonin announced via video link that he tested positive for COVID.

"This is not going to calm down. It's in a boiling point, and it's boiling over, and the only thing that will give us the environment we need to do this work is if we turn down this heat, and the only way to turn down that heat is by three resignations," O'Farrell stated after the adjourned meeting.

O'Farrell said he advised De León and Cedillo not to show up today.

In the meantime, city business is piling up. Motions that were scheduled to be heard on Monday and Tuesday have been pushed to meetings scheduled later in October.

Read Martinez's Full Statement

A Latina with long dark hair sits at a formal desk with a pen in hand.
Council President Nury Martinez co-sponsored the motion.
(Libby Denkmann

It is with a broken heart that I resign my seat for Council District 6, the community I grew up in and my home.

When I ran in 2013, I wanted to see a change in my community and fight for my neighbors. That is what it has been about all along. No one expected me to win, but with the support of residents throughout the district I overcame that challenge and won the seat for Council District 6. I had the honor of serving in the role of a lifetime: being the representative for my neighbors.

Over the last 9 years, I’ve had the honor of working with communities across Los Angeles to fight for policies that uplift working families. For the families who can’t make it out of poverty, struggling everyday, you are the reason why I get up in the morning and do what I do. To represent and fight for the people who don’t have a voice. To the workers, the housekeepers, the nannies, to the people who get up to ride the bus to work in the morning. You have been the backbone of our city throughout this pandemic, but you were the backbone long before. I went to work for you. You have been my mission and my guiding principle.

The last, almost three years, have been unimaginably difficult. When I was elected President of the Council, I served for three months before the pandemic came crashing down. As the first Latina Council President, I strived to serve with compassion and to give a larger platform to the communities I felt had been left behind. This Council has made a difference in the lives of millions across the city. We launched the largest renters relief program in the nation, brought equity in our city’s budget, created tenant protections, pushed for equality for women in the workplace, worked to phase out of oil, created a new department around families and community investment, created the largest guaranteed basic income program in the country, launched a new homeowner program, fought for human trafficking victims, and so much more. In Council District 6, we planned the revitalization of the Sepulveda Basin and the Van Nuys Civic Center, we distributed thousands of boxes at our monthly food and diaper giveaways, rented out laundromats for families in need and led the way in building housing for our homeless neighbors in the Valley. To my constituents - Serving you has been a privilege and one that I don’t give up lightly. You are my neighbors, my friends, and the reason for this service. Throughout these 9 years, we’ve been able to work together to fix our parks, our streets, our sidewalks, and improve the overall quality of life for our neighborhoods. I hope you stay engaged and continue to fight for your fair share of the city’s resources. It’s hard to say goodbye, but please know that I was in this fight for you.

To my colleagues — I know we’ve had a hard couple of years and I know this work hasn’t always been easy for us. My only goal as Council President has been to champion a families first agenda that we can all be proud of. Each of you have worked hard on policies and programs that uplift Angelenos across this city. I hope that this work continues and that workers and working class families remain in the forefront of the priorities of this Council. While I leave with a heavy heart, know that I wish you all the best and I have faith in your strength to unite this city.

To the City employees — you have been my second family. From the start of my presidency, you rallied around me and embraced my families first agenda. You work hard every day and show up for this City’s residents. During the pandemic, when everyone stayed safe at home, you came to work, you delivered services, you became disaster workers, essential workers, and you got this city through our hardest times. I thank you and this city thanks you.

To my staff — I’m sorry that we’re ending it this way. This is no reflection on you. I know you all will continue to do great work and fight for our district. I’ll be cheering you on.

To my family, to my daughter, and to my mom — You have been my support system, my shoulder to cry on, and my biggest cheerleaders throughout my time in office. There have been many long nights, dinners missed, homework not checked over, dishes not washed because of this role that I took on.

To my husband, my right hand man and my confidant, I cannot thank you enough for being my partner through this. To my daughter, I know I have fallen short recently of the expectations we have for our family. I vow to you that I will strive to be a better woman to make you proud. To my mom, you give me strength and you center me. I’ve only ever wanted to make you proud. To my sister, thank you for all you do, you have stepped in to take care of our family when I could not be there. To my dad in heaven, siempre serás mi inspiración.

And last, to all little Latina girls across this city — I hope I’ve inspired you to dream beyond that which you can see. While I take the time to look inwards and reflect, I ask that you give me space and privacy.

Thank you

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