On Tuesday, at the first meeting of the Los Angeles City Council led by new Council President Nury Martinez, Councilmember David Ryu was named Assistant President Pro Tempore of the City Council, the third-highest rank on the Council. Ryu, who led a presentation for Korean American Day, is the first Korean American and first Asian American to serve in a City Council leadership position.
“It is a great privilege to join Council President Nury Martinez and Council President Pro Tempore Joe Buscaino in leading this new City Council,” Ryu said in a statement shared with the Buzz. “The history of this moment is not lost on me. To be the first Asian American in this leadership role, and to serve under our City Council’s first Latina President, is an incredible honor – and reflects just how far our City has come. I look forward to partnering with Council President Martinez on delivering on a working families agenda and building a Los Angeles that lifts up all its people.”
Ryu will preside over the City Council meetings when Martinez and Busciano are absent. Martinez, who represents the 6th Council District in the Northeast San Fernando Valley, tapped Ryu to help on her working-families agenda, in part because of his leadership on Paid Parental Leave, Children’s Savings Accounts, Moderate-Income Housing, and other policy issues, explained Ryu’s spokesman Mark Pampanin.
Martinez and Buscaino, were nominated by former Council President Herb Wesson and voted in as President and President Pro Tempore, respectively, by a unanimous (14-0) vote at the City Council’s Dec. 3, 2019 meeting.
Martinez introduced her Families First agenda in her first meeting as City Council President on Tuesday.
“I am a child of the working poor, which is why I am a champion for the working poor, and why my main priority is to create a families-first agenda that ensures every child has the opportunity to make the most of this city’s many gifts,” said Martinez in an address to the Council. “Right now, in the City of Los Angeles, there are families that are doing everything right, yet it is not enough. Our families-first agenda is a call to action to lead, to be courageous and to act with urgency. We want to see children of the working poor, women and families, fulfill their dreams, which benefits the whole City. While I am the first Latina City Council President in the City’s history, I cannot be the last. Young girls of all backgrounds should have the opportunity to lead the City Council one day or occupy any position of power. Our work under my Presidency will focus on making sure they, and others, have the opportunity to do just that.”
Martinez laid out a sweeping agenda to tackle homelessness, and announced the introduction of two other motions focused on addressing the City’s homelessness crisis. One seeks to reevaluate the City’s role with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), and the other to reevaluate the City’s own Homelessness Strategic Plan through the City’s Enhanced Comprehension Homeless Strategy (ECHS). Martinez said she wants a full and comprehensive City evaluation of our work to address homelessness, and whether there are better models the city should be implementing.
According to the Los Angeles Times. Martinez may bring a different leadership style to the City Council:
“Martinez replaces Herb Wesson, who is running for a seat on the county Board of Supervisors, as the council president. As the head of the council, Wesson frequently oversaw unanimous votes at City Hall and often minimized debate on the council floor,” reported the Los Angeles Times.
“When asked how her leadership would be different, Martinez suggested that might change. “I’m not afraid of having an 8-to-7 vote on any given Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday,” she told reporters.”
Martinez is the second woman to ever be elected by her peers to serve as Council President. Until Martinez, Pat Russell was the first and only woman elected by her peers to the title of Los Angeles City Council President (from 1983-87). Ruth Galanter also assumed the title of Council President as part of her duties as President Pro Tempore following the death of then Council President John Ferraro in 2001.