Harris-Dawson ‘humbled, proud’ to lead council 

Eighth District councilman will assume president’s role in September

By Ray Richardson

Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES — The City Council has unanimously voted to make Marqueece Harris-Dawson the next City Council president.

Two months after Harris-Dawson was elected to a third term to represent the Eighth District, he received a 14-0 vote May 28 to replace City Council President Paul Krekorian, effective Sept. 20.

“I’m humbled and proud at the same time,” Harris-Dawson told The Wave. “I got a sense of the support when I talked to people in recent weeks. I was really happy with the conversations I had.”

Barring a vote to remove Harris-Dawson, he will serve as City Council president through 2028. Krekorian will continue his duties until Sept. 20.

Mayor Karen Bass, a close ally and longtime associate of Harris-Dawson, offered her congratulations after learning of the vote. 

There are beliefs that the connection between Bass and Harris-Dawson could have a positive impact on city initiatives. Bass and Harris-Dawson worked together at Community Coalition, a South Los Angeles nonprofit, before Bass was elected to the state Assembly in 2004.

“Councilman Harris-Dawson has a long history in City Hall and beyond of bringing people together from all backgrounds and across all sectors,” Bass said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing locking arms with council leadership to bring more unhoused Angelenos inside and make Los Angeles safer for all.”

Harris-Dawson, 54, becomes the City Council’s second African-American president. Former 10th District Councilman Herb Wesson was president for eight years from 2012-2020.

News of Harris-Dawson earning the City Council’s top leadership position was celebrated by Wesson, who expressed pride and admiration for Harris-Dawson.

“The best thing about being the first is knowing you won’t be the last,” Wesson said in reference to he and Harris-Dawson being the only African-Americans to serve as City Council president. “I’m so proud of Marqueece. He’s prepared, experienced and has the kind of personality that can lead the council. He’s perfect for the job.”

Harris-Dawson said he was prepared to wait until later in the year to formally pursue the position. Term limits outlined in the City Charter require Krekorian to step down as president by Dec. 31. Krekorian could have waited until December, but City Council members began thinking about the advantages of an earlier transition.

In recent weeks, Harris-Dawson talked privately with several council members to gauge their support of his desire to be president. Council members Heather Hutt (10th District) and Katy Yaroslavsky (5th District) submitted a motion May 24 to schedule a vote on May 28.

Support was building to take a vote rather than wait until the end of the year to determine Krekorian’s successor.

“Thank you so much council president, thank you all members of the council, and everybody that was advised, pushed, cajoled, and struggled with us over the past few months to get to this particular day,” Harris-Dawson said following the vote. “A special thank you to Council President Krekorian who’s made every resource available so we could have a smoother transition as possible.”

He added, “You’ll hear from us later, and until September, expect to see me with my head down and studying as hard as I can, so that we can be as prepared as possible when I take leadership of this council.”

Yaroslavsky, who led the motion to make Harris-Dawson the next council president, said in a statement that “Harris-Dawson’s leadership, vision, and temperament have consistently stood out in his tenure on the council. 

“His ability to build coalitions across L.A.’s diverse communities demonstrates a commitment to collaboration that is crucial for our city’s future,” she added.

“The city appears to be trying to get ahead of things they know they have to do,” said Robert Sausedo, president and CEO of Community Build Inc., a nonprofit organization with offices in the Eighth District. “The fact that the vote on Harris-Dawson was taken much sooner shows there’s unity in the City Council.”

Monica Rodriguez (7th District) was the only council member who did not participate in the vote for Harris-Dawson. Rodriguez was absent from the May 28 City Council meeting.

The unanimous vote means 14th District Councilman Kevin de León supported Harris-Dawson’s bid for the president’s seat. 

Harris-Dawson was one of the more outspoken council members who demanded de León’s resignation in 2022 for his role in the racist tape recordings that rocked the City Council. 

Former City Council President Nury Martinez resigned after she was heard making controversial comments on the tape, but de Leon fought off calls for his resignation and has remained in office.

The leaked recording and other controversies that hung over the City Council over the past three years are situations Harris-Dawson hopes to move beyond when he takes over as president.

“Getting the work done for the people is the priority,” Harris-Dawson said. “The more we provide solutions and concentrate on those things, the less time there is to think about other issues.”

Ray Richardson is a contributing writer for The Wave. He can be reached at rayrich55@gmail.com.

City News Service contributed to this story.

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