Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez has ruled out running for mayor, saying the city needs stable political leadership as it emerges from the pandemic and the accompanying economic downturn.
Martinez said Thursday that although she would like to see a woman elected mayor, she intends to continue serving as council president.
“After everything we’ve been through as a city and everything we have left to do to recover from this pandemic, LA needs stability and steady leadership,” said Martinez, who represents part of the San Fernando Valley.
“I know that as President of the Council I can best serve the hard-working people and families of our city,” she said in a statement.
Martinez, known for her outspoken style of speaking and focus on working-class issues, would have turned the race on its head if she got in. The competition currently includes only two great political figures – City Atty. Mike Feuer and Alderman Joe Buscaino – a situation that has caused some citizen leaders to look for alternatives.
Martinez, 48, grew up in Pacoima and is the daughter of Mexican immigrants – one dishwasher, the other a factory worker. Their decision to stay out of the race comes about a month after Councilor Mark Ridley-Thomas, a veteran politician who represents part of South Los Angeles, also turned down a bid for mayor’s office.
Still, the competition for Garcetti could soon get fuller.
Councilor Kevin de León, a former state Senate President, has been pondering a run for several months. The US MP Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, is now considering a campaign. And real estate developer Rick Caruso has hired consultants to assess his own chances of success.
Martinez represents a district that includes Van Nuys, Panorama City, Lake Balboa, and Arleta. The most important candidate to date from the vocal Valley is real estate agent Mel Wilson, who served on the board of directors of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority for several years.
For the past few weeks, Martinez has sounded hesitant about leaving her post as chair of the 15-member council, which has a huge impact on local legislation, public order and property development.
To become mayor, “I have to give up the presidency, which is the most powerful position in the city,” Martinez told the Times last week.
Martinez, who was first elected to the council in 2013, has spent the past year and a half as council president, a period dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic fallout that followed.
During the crisis, Martinez chaired the committee that distributed hundreds of millions of dollars in rental benefits, homelessness, and financial aid to people who couldn’t pay their water and electricity bills.
Martinez has also led more frank council debates – particularly on strategies to respond to the economic crisis – than under her predecessor, former councilor Herb Wesson.
Martinez was acting mayor when Garcetti was out of state. Garcetti has been nominated as U.S. Ambassador to India by President Biden but is awaiting a hearing for confirmation.
The Times writer, Benjamin Oreskes, contributed to this report
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