LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez stepped down from her powerful position Monday morning, a day after incendiary leaked audio exploded into public. It appears that she will remain on the 15-member legislative body.
The move will almost certainly trigger behind-the-scenes jockeying at City Hall over who will replace her, along with further questions about whether she retains her seat on the council.
Martinez reiterated her apologies in a Monday morning statement, saying she was “truly ashamed.”
“I ask for forgiveness from my colleagues and from the residents of this city that I love so much. In the end, it is not my apologies that matter most; it will be the actions I take from this day forward. I hope that you will give me the opportunity to make amends,” Martinez said. “Therefore, effective immediately I am resigning as President of the Los Angeles City Council.”
The leaked audio involved three Los Angeles council members and a top labor leader. Martinez is heard making racist statements and disparaging other politicians, upending politics a month before a critical city election and bringing the crucible of race relations back into the center of municipal debate.
On Sunday night, Councilman Gil Cedillo, who was in the meeting, issued his own apology.
“While I did not engage in the conversation in question, I was present at times during this meeting last year. It is my instinct to hold others accountable when they use derogatory or racially divisive language. Clearly, I should have intervened. I failed in holding others and myself to the highest standard. The hurtful and harmful remarks made about my colleague’s son were simple unacceptable. We choose public life, but our families should always be off limits and never part of the political discourse,” he said in a text to The Times.
Martinez’s resignation arrives at a key moment for City Hall. As many as five council members could depart by the end of the year, depending on the outcome of the Nov. 8 election.
Four council members are stepping down while a fifth, Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, is in a tough reelection fight.
Councilwoman-elect Eunisses Hernandez, who defeated Cedillo in June, said she wants to see the council have “an intermediate caretaker” as president until the end of the year, when she and the other new council members will be seated.
Hernandez said Councilman Paul Krekorian would make a good caretaker in the coming months. “In January, when the new council is on board, we should do a new vote. And I would be interested in seeing Marqueece’s leadership,” said Hernandez, referring to Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson.