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Green Party welcomes resignation of LA City Councilmember Martinez, calls upon councilmembers Cedillo and De Leon to Resign

Green Party of Los Angeles County Press Statement
October 12, 2002

Since the now infamous year-old audio recording of their voices was released on Sunday, the Green Party has called for Los Angeles City Councilmembers Nury Martinez, Gil Cedillo and Kevin De Leon to resign their seats on the City Council.

Their vile, hateful and racist anti-black remarks, their attacks on indigenous people, their homophobic tropes, their dismissal of renters, and even their venom towards the three-year old son of one of their colleagues all showed they are unfit to govern.

For that reason the Green Party welcomes the resignation from the City Council today by Martinez, and call about Cedillo and De Leon to do so as well.

When the tape of their repugnant conversation became public, the three Councilmembers’ individual statements about ‘taking responsibility’ for their remarks did not go nearly far enough. As public officials accountable to an entire city, ‘taking responsibility’ in this case is not just about the past. It is about each of them taking responsibility for the affect their words and their continued presence on the City Council would have upon the Council’s future ability to function.

It should be no secret that deep-seated racism has marked the history of the United States - and is surely present and unspoken among too many elected officials across the country.  But when it becomes so overt as in this case, it becomes an elephant in the room affecting all future interactions with these three, whether with their City Council colleagues or with the public they are elected to serve. That’s why Cedillo and De Leon also must take take personal responsibility to remove themselves from office now, as their continued presence on the City Council would contaminate its ongoing work.  

Cedillo’s current term ends in December 2022, having been defeated in the June 2022 primary. It would be an appropriate gesture for him to leave office now, with only a few weeks to go.  Little to lose, a lot to gain by acknowledging the wrongness of his actions.

In the case of De Leon - whose term doesn’t end until December 2024 - he should step down now and cease showing any further disdain for the residents of Los Angeles by remaining in office. This would free voters from initiating a recall election against him, that would only prolong this trauma until well into 2023, when a recall election would be held.

The Green Party also believes LA’s system of electing its city council by small number of large single-seat, winner take-all districts was an exacerbating factor in this tragic affair.  

With only 15 city council members to represent approximately four million people, LA has the worst per-capita city council representation in the nation.  With so few seats on the city council, this concentrates power in too few hands, makes it difficult to realize diverse representation, and raises the stakes of drawing city council district lines to an extreme.

To address blatant inherent corruption in the redistricting process, the Green Party enthusiastically supports removing sitting City Councilmembers having any role in the redistricting process, and establishing an independent redistricting commission for Los Angeles in its place.  

But while drawing district boundaries via such a commission would removes the potential for direct corruption of the process by City Council members and their representatives, it won’t address the root problem of electing so few representatives via single-seat, winner-take-all district elections.

Even with an independent commission drawing district lines — and even drawing lines for a larger city council with more smaller and less populous districts — redistricting for single-seat districts will remain problematic and controversial, because it will always be a discretionary choice about which group of voters gets grouped with which others, in order to elect a single winner.  A different choice in single-seat district lines can lead to a different result in terms of who receives representation and who does not — no matter who draws the lines.  

The Green Party has long called for a far larger LA city council - at least along the sizes of Chicago (50) and New York (51) - elected from three- or five-member multi-seat districts by ranked choice voting.  Under such a system, different groups of voters will win representation at the same time within each district, in proportion to their numbers. Under LA’s current system, there are only absolute winners and losers over a single seat. This doesn’t excuse the hateful language and the corrupt, self-interested politicking evidenced on the audio recording of the three disgraced Councilmembers. But it does show where the incentives are in the current darwinian winner-take-all system.

Electing a larger LA city council from multi-seat districts by ranked choice voting would mean  broader, deeper and more diverse representation — both within each district and city-wide and an end to the corruptible single-member fiefdoms council districts LA has today.

It would also mean less expensive campaigns (because the threshold percentage of votes to get elected is much lower), better realization of the goals of the California Voting Rights Act in Los Angeles, and an enhanced role for Neighborhood Councils to be able relate to multiple council members in their city council district, depending upon the issue at hand. And in eliminating LA’s out-dated two-round ‘contingent’ spring primary/November general election run-off in favor of a single November ranked-choice vote, all city council elections would be decided in November when turnout is higher and the electorate more diverse.

For all these reasons, the Green Party believes the proper structural response to the hateful recorded remarks by the three LA City Councilmembers is to convene a Los Angeles Charter Review Commission that would  consider a substantially larger city council and election to the council from multi-seat district by ranked choice voting.

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