By Ray Richardson
LOS ANGELES — Barring any new legal maneuverings, Heather Hutt will represent the 10th District on the City Council.
The caretaker for the district after interim Councilman Herb Wesson resigned last month, Hutt is the first woman to represent the 10th District on the council and will provide voting representation for the district. “Our district missed a lot of votes,” Hutt told The Wave. “I live in the district. It was tough seeing things happen that didn’t include us. I want the people in our district to know that I’m here to deliver for them.”
Hutt was named caretaker of the 10th District while Wesson, the initial choice of City Council President Nury Martinez to replace suspended Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, awaited the outcome of a legal challenge to his appointment.
As caretaker, Hutt had no voting power and was not allowed to present motions. She also didn’t have a nameplate at her seat in the City Council. That changed with her appointment, which became official Sept. 7 after her council colleagues approved her appointment.
“That was sort of an ah-ha moment for me, to walk into the first meeting and see my name there,” Hutt said. “They even let me lead the Pledge of Allegiance. That was a big deal for me.”
When Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff extended the injunction against Wesson in August, Wesson resigned from his temporary role. His resignation paved the way for the City Council to consider giving Hutt full voting power and the ability to present motions.
Wesson, a former City Council president, had voting privileges, but a legal challenge was mounted against him based on the city’s term limits law. Wesson had served the maximum three four-year terms, representing the 10th District from 2005-20.
“I’m just happy that the district now has voting representation,” Wesson told The Wave. “That’s been the main point all along — that people in the district were not being served. Heather is the first person I recommended to the City Council. She will do an outstanding job.”
Hutt was Wesson’s chief of staff when Wesson was representing the district until the legal challenge forced him out. She has an extensive background in public service on the city, state and national level, including serving as state director for Vice President Kamala Harris when Harris was a U.S. senator.
Rev. William Smart, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California, the organization that led the legal challenges against Wesson, supported Hutt’s appointment and the impact her role will have on the 10th District.
“Heather is definitely qualified,” Smart said. “She’s a great person to have in there before Ridley-Thomas comes back. It was never about her or Wesson. It was about Martinez, the process and transparency. Martinez said they received about 80 pages of emails supporting Heather. You can’t argue with that.”
Ridley-Thomas was indicted on federal fraud charges in October 2021. A week after the charges were announced, the City Council voted to suspend Ridley-Thomas without pay. His trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 15.
If Ridley-Thomas is found innocent, he will be allowed to return to the City Council and resume representing the 10th District. Ridley-Thomas received 60% percent of the vote when he was elected to the 10th District seat in November 2020 after being forced to step down from the county Board of Supervisors due to term limits.
Hutt is aware of the possibility of Ridley-Thomas’ return, but she has pledged to 10th District residents her full commitment to represent them. Hutt said she has encountered numerous residents in the community who have expressed happiness and relief that she’s sitting in the City Council with formal voting rights.
“A lot of policies are coming up requiring voting that will affect our district,” Hutt said. “I’m excited to get things done regarding housing and employment and other matters. I want to make sure our staff is providing the best services possible for our residents.”
Ray Richardson is a contributing writer to The Wave. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.