The Los Angeles City Council Will be Led by a Latina for the First Time in History

Supermajority Education Fund

December 9, 2019

On December 3, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Nury Martinez was elected president of the city council with a unanimous vote (and one member absent). Martinez, who is the first Latina ever voted to lead the council of the country’s second largest city, will assume her role on January 5, 2020. 

“When I was growing up, a lot of little girls that look like me and talk like me didn’t necessarily grow up to believe that they, one day, can have these types of positions,” Martinez told the Los Angeles Times.

Last week, the council’s current president and its first African-American — Herb Wesson — announced he was stepping down to focus on his own campaign for the powerful Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. 

Martinez represents the 6th District, including eastern San Fernando Valley with parts of Van Nuys, North Hollywood, Panorama City, Sun Valley, and Arleta. The Times reported that Martinez is only the second Latina to serve on the council. “To all the girls out there, no matter what you look like, the color of your skin, where you were born, what you believe in, or who you love, believe me, you WILL be next,” Martinez tweeted on Tuesday. 

Gloria Molina, the first Latina elected to the council, said Martinez is in a position to really affect the council in 2020. Martinez’s election is “a very significant accomplishment, not just as a Latina but as a woman,” Molina told the Times. “It’s still a men’s game there.”

Martinez is the daughter of Mexican immigrants from Zacatecas; she grew up in the Pacoima neighborhood of Los Angeles. Her parents worked as a dishwasher and a factory worker. Martinez draws on that history in her policy making. “I think it’s important to continue to show the rest of the country what this community is made of,” she told KTLA. “The Latinos are ready to lead and we’re very grateful to be part of this wonderful country called America.”

Next month, Martinez will announce her agenda as president. The Times says her agenda will focus on children and families. She’s previously supported raising the minimum wage, local environmental justice and paid leave for parents.