05
Wed, Oct

Council District 10 is left voteless in LA City Council after Mark Ridley-Thomas suspension

CD10 Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas at the Leimert Park Rising Juneteenth Festival.

Politics

CD10, which has one of the largest Black populations in Los Angeles, does not have any voting power on the City Council and many residents are demanding proper representation.

 

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Leimert Park resident Diane Robertson led a rally demanding that CD10 is given their vote back on the city council. Photos by Jason Lewis
 

By Jason Lewis

Since Los Angeles City Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas was indicted on federal corruption charges, residents and community leaders of Council District 10 (CD10) have questioned the city council’s decision to suspend him, and many of them feel that the decision has left them without a voice and a vote on the city council.

A pressing issue is that the city council has not given the community a plan to temporarily replace Ridley-Thomas’ vote as the council considers the redistricting plan and as the city continues to manage the homelessness issue.

“We’re at a particular point where we’re all confused in reference to what does this suspension mean,” said K. W. Tulloss, president of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Los Angeles and Southern California.  “Does it mean that his staff that is currently providing these services will continue in their positions?  But I think that the most alarming piece is the suspension will take away that voice from the constituents who overwhelmingly elected Mark Ridley-Thomas to be their representative.  The people that will be most affected by it are the people in District 10, and those that he has championed through many of his homelessness initiatives.”

Ridley-Thomas’ chief of staff, Karly Katona, has been named the caretaker of the district, but at the moment she does not have voting power on the council, which leaves a district that has one of the highest percentage of African Americans in the city without a vote.  

“This is terrible timing,” said Gina Fields, chair of the Empowerment Congress West Area Neighborhood Development Council (ECWANDC).  “The current redistricting going on, the map keeps shifting this way and that way.  We just need to make sure that our interests are being represented.

“The staff at CD10 are wonderful, and they have been stepping in, and they are continuing to fulfill all of the obligations that are needed.  And I have great respect for that.  I know that the City Council has appointed the chief of staff as caretaker, and she’s wonderful, and I’m sure that she’s doing a wonderful job.  The challenge is that a caretaker is not allowed to vote, and I don’t think that a caretaker is allowed to attend committee meetings.  Well that’s a challenge because the redistricting is in a committee meeting, and redistricting may require some votes.”

The CD10 office will still be fully functional, but many of their assignments will be moved to other council districts.  Ridley-Thomas was the head of the city’s Homelessness and Poverty committee, but those duties have been passed on to another councilmember.  Black people account for only eight percent of the city’s population, but 34 percent of the city’s homeless population.  Recently the ECWANDC partnered with Ridley-Thomas to house 75 homeless people in Leimert Park Village and 25 people who were living in front of the Department of Water and Power building on Crenshaw Boulevard and under the bridge of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.

“We need to know that we have somebody advocating for us who knows the areas, understands the area, and understands the importance of Leimert Park and Crenshaw Manor staying together,” Fields said.  “CD10 staff and Mark Ridley-Thomas has been putting in the work to get people housed, to get the streets cleaned up; to improve upon what we had during COVID, when homelessness was running rampant .  To have that rug snatched out from under us, it’s just alarming.  We don’t know what the next steps are.  We need to push for having an appointed board member who can actually vote on our behalf.  Because right now CD10 has no voting power.”

Leimert Park resident Diane Robertson recently led a rally against the city council’s decision to suspend Ridley-Thomas, where community members expressed the frustration for not being properly represented on the city council.

“Leave CD10 alone,” she said.  

“This was the council’s first act of disenfranchisement toward CD10.  We believe they stole our vote.

“We have a call to action.  We need CD10 residents to use the power of their voices and pens to let the council members know that we can not bear anymore hostile or insensitive actions.”

At the rally, Tori Bailey, elected homeless liaison for CD10, said that plans to help the homeless in the district have stalled.

“This is affecting us tremendously,” she said.  “Right now we were helping 54 women to get their permanent housing, and we were scheduled to have meetings with that office.  It’s affecting us tremendously and all of the areas surrounding us.”

Community Build CEO Robert Sausedo took issue with the city council suspending Ridley-Thomas, who has not been convicted of any crimes at this point.  He, along with other community members, want Ridley-Thomas reinstated, or for the community to have a strong voice in the plans for the district moving forward.

“Should the council not reinstate, then they should engage the community in a meaningful way to determine who will represent their interests,” he said.  “Otherwise, this is by all means, taxation without representation.  Give the people what they are demanding and deserving under the true spirit of democracy.”

Find out how your voice can be heard at https://linktr.ee/cd10residents?fbclid=IwAR0BC2jh0xNJamgSo8viGf3q02iaLYmv3k0ZIgmBvSP52gTd28CLQzLNQHA