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Herb Wesson to Run for Ludlow's Seat on Council

Former Assembly speaker moved to district when vacancy was announced.

June 22, 2005|Steve Hymon | Times Staff Writer

At a boisterous rally on the south lawn of City Hall, former state Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson declared his candidacy Tuesday for the Los Angeles City Council seat being vacated by Martin Ludlow.

Wesson told reporters after the rally that if he won -- the primary is Nov. 8 -- he would serve the remainder of Ludlow's term, until 2007, and then run for reelection.

However, Wesson would not rule out a run in 2008 for the county supervisor seat held by Yvonne Brathwaite Burke.

That means Wesson, if elected, might serve for only three years on the City Council, while a full council term is four years. Ludlow, who is leaving office at the end of the month, served the first two years of his term.

Wesson told the crowd at the rally: "This is not about me, it's about we, it's about us, and for those people who have come up to me and said, 'Herb Wesson, is this a steppingstone for you to go somewhere else?' ... I say the 10th District is my rock, the 10th District is my heart, the 10th District is my soul."

The district may be his heart and soul, but until recently, it was not Wesson's home -- although he has had a long history of representing parts of the district at the state level.

Wesson said after the rally that he only moved into the district west of downtown after Ludlow announced he was leaving the council. Wesson was living in unincorporated Los Angeles County.

Wesson, 53, has a long resume. He was hired by Burke last year as a special assistant to work on several issues, including the crisis surrounding patient care problems at Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center.

Wesson was chief of staff to Councilman Nate Holden, who represented the 10th District for 16 years before stepping aside in 2003 because of term limits. The candidate Holden supported in 2003 lost to Ludlow.

He was also Burke's chief of staff before winning election in 1998 to the Assembly, where he served three terms.

In his remarks to the crowd, Wesson said that if he were elected he would focus on maintaining city services, regional issues such as transportation and smog, and using his office as a soapbox to address social ills such as HIV.

Wesson ticked off several accomplishments over the years, including helping push a $25-billion state school bond through the Assembly in 2002.

Wesson's rally was attended by more than 100 supporters, including Councilmen Eric Garcetti, Bernard C. Parks, Dennis Zine and Tom LaBonge. Bob Hertzberg, another former Assembly speaker, was host.

No one else has announced a candidacy for the 10th District race. State Sen. Kevin Murray (D-Culver City) has endorsed Wesson; earlier this month, Murray expressed interest in running.

Denise Fairchild, 54, president of the nonprofit Community Development Technologies Center, said Tuesday that she has hired campaign consultant Parke Skelton and is considering running.

Ludlow is resigning from the council at the end of the month to become the interim secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. He hopes to secure the position in a July 18 election in which he is running against Ivan Corpeno Chavez and Kevin Miguel Norte -- members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Jodi Sakol, the group's associate director of public affairs in Washington, said the nomination of Chavez and Norte should not be interpreted as an attempt by the national union to thwart Ludlow.

"This is a local initiative, and the intent was to get clarification on where the L.A. County Federation is going," Sakol said. "I think we're going to leave this at the local level."

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