By Ray Richardson
LOS ANGELES — Residents opposed to Herb Wesson serving as the interim City Council representative for the 10th District are considering asking for a temporary restraining order to have him removed from the seat while the legal battle continues.
The latest strategy in the ongoing conflict in the 10th District comes after a ruling by California Attorney General Rob Bonta last week cleared the way for supporters of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California (SCLC), the organization leading the challenge to Wesson’s appointment, to resume its lawsuit against the City Council.
“We’re strongly contemplating filing for a temporary restraining order,” said SCLC attorney John Sweeney. “From the beginning, we’ve known that Wesson is holding the seat illegally and is in violation of the City Charter. We knew this would make its way back to the courts.”
Sweeney filed a “quo warranto” with Bonta in March after Superior Court Judge Mary Strobel denied a previous restraining order to prevent Wesson from serving as the 10th District Council representative following the suspension of Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas last October.
Ridley-Thomas, who was elected in 2020 as the district’s representative, was indicted last October on federal corruption charges. He is scheduled to go on trial beginning Aug. 9.
The state attorney general sided with SCLC’s request for “quo warranto,” a provision that determines whether a person has a legal right to hold public office.
Bonta’s decision is viewed as a significant victory for SCLC supporters, who are seeking “fair representation” in the 10th District.
“This gets back to our initial concern that the people of the 10th District have been ignored throughout this whole process,” SCLC President William Smart said. “We’re not talking about a person. We’re talking about a process, and the right to participate in the process.”
At the root of the SCLC’s argument is that Wesson, a former City Council president, was “termed out” of officer after serving a maximum three terms representing the 10th District. The City Charter limits council members to three terms. Wesson represented the 10th District from 2005 to 2020.
Though unfazed by the prospect of more legal action, Wesson expressed disappointment that the conflict is continuing.
“The lawsuit makes no sense,” Wesson said. “No matter what happens, the City Council is not going to suspend me or re-appoint the current person until their legal matter is resolved. I’m going to keep doing the job the people have asked me to do.”
Sweeney indicated the request for a temporary restraining order to remove Wesson could be submitted next week. Wesson, who has served as interim council member since March, agreed to stay in the role through Dec. 31. At that point, the City Council will have to decide on whether to extend Wesson’s role if the legal process has not been resolved.
Wesson continues to have the full support of City Council President Nury Martinez.
“Throughout my numerous meetings and emails I received, residents overwhelmingly suggested Herb Wesson to serve as the appointee,” Martinez said in a statement. “This was always about making sure the 10th District has a voice who knows the district and the community. The people of the 10th deserve representation on this council and I am still determined to give them that.”
SCLC supporters have opposed Wesson’s appointment to serve the 10th District since Ridley-Thomas was suspended.
The SCLC contingent is claiming “lack of transparency and participation” for the manner in which the City Council suspended Ridley-Thomas and the way Wesson was appointed to replace him. Wesson’s opponents believe Ridley-Thomas should have been allowed to remain in office until the outcome of his trial.
Ray Richardson is a contributing writer for The Wave. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.