Councilwoman Nury Martinez was on Tuesday unanimously elected the first Latina president in the 110-year history of the Los Angeles City Council.
Martinez, who represents the 6th District in the northeast San Fernando Valley, is the daughter of Mexican immigrants and grew up in Pacoima. She’s the second woman ever elected to head the City Council, according to her office.
She will replace Councilman Herb Wesson, who’s set to step down from presidential duties on Jan. 4.
Martinez said she hopes her historic election will be an example to women and girls around the region, including her young daughter who at one point appeared at her side as she spoke before reporters.
“I’d like my daughter — not only my daughter but other little girls just like her — to know that women in this city can grow up to be anything they want to be,” Martinez said.
Martinez, the daughter of a dish washer and a factory worker, said in her acceptance speech that she had a message for little girls following today's events. "You can grow up to be anything you want"
— David Zahniser 🦅 (@DavidZahniser) December 3, 2019
Wesson endorsed Martinez last week when he announced his plans to resign as council president and focus on his campaign for a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. He also made history with his tenure as the council’s first African American president.
During his leadership, Los Angeles raised its minimum wage and passed a $1.2 billion measure to tackle the city’s growing crisis of homelessness that has drawn attention and criticism on a national level.
In a statement, Wesson wrote he’s proud of the council’s work over the past eight years and expects “good governance that has helped to make LA the greatest city in the world will carry on under our next president.”
Martinez has pushed for paid parental leave, sidewalk improvements and supportive housing for homeless individuals in the San Fernando Valley, according to her website.
She chairs the council’s Environmental, Climate Change & Environmental Justice Committee and has called for a “Green New Deal” agenda that aims to curb pollution that disproportionately affects low-income communities of color.
Her 2015 campaign for a council seat was the center of a fraud investigation that ended earlier this year when the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office dropped charges, citing insufficient evidence.
While announcing her win, Martinez said she also hopes it serves as a boost for the Latino community amid an “anti-immigrant climate” in the U.S.
“I think it’s important to continue to show the rest of the country what this community is made of,” she said. “The Latinos are ready to lead and we’re very grateful to be part of this wonderful country called America.”
Martinez served on the Los Angeles Unified School District board before being elected to City Council in 2013. She was on the San Fernando City Council from 2003 to 2009.