Yesterday was a historic day for the city of Los Angeles. San Fernando Valley area Councilwoman Nury Martinez became the first Latina to be president of the Los Angeles City Council. Her new position as president of the 15-member council comes after the original president, Herb Wesson, stepped down in order to run for Los Angeles County Supervisor in District 2. Wesson nominated Martinez for the role, and she begins her first day on Jan. 5.
“I want to thank Council President Wesson and my City Council colleagues for their overwhelming support and partnership,” Martinez said in a press conference. “As the daughter of Mexican immigrants, it is not lost on me that in one of the most diverse cities in the world and the second-largest city in the nation, I will soon become the first Latina city council president in Los Angeles’ storied history.”
Martinez got a slew of congratulatory messages on social media by colleagues, supporters, and family, including from Jeff Gorell, the Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles. He tweeted, “Congratulations to our new President of the LA City Council, Nury Martinez. I enjoy working with her on issues of safety, security, and resilience. She has heart, passion, smarts, and a lot of energy to get things done.”
Martinez is a graduate of California State University, Northridge, and some of her platforms, including the 2015 launch of the Valley Bureau Human Trafficking Task Force and to criminalize prostitution and help sex workers escape that industry. She’s also a fierce advocate for women’s rights, which includes “leading a policy initiative to increase ‘paid parental leave’ in the City of Los Angeles in order to end archaic laws that punish women for having children, and so that mothers, and all parents, can properly care for and bond with their new-born infants without fear of losing their salaries or jobs.”
Not everyone is happy with Martinez’s new title. She has faced backlash for her mishandling of a significant homeless issue that affected the area that she represented. As one person tweeted after the announcement, “Remember how Nury Martinez shamed homeless advocates for speaking out against City Council’s opposition to the state bill that would prevent poor people from losing their cars? Her leadership style is pitting the working poor against each other while punishing poverty.”