This week’s election of Councilman Herb Wesson as president of the City Council made history in Los Angeles, since he is the first African American to hold this position in the council’s 161 years.
As head of the council, this representative of Los Angeles District 10 will now have a higher profile. The councilman’s work during his six-year tenure has not been that remarkable, although he has shined for his ability to negotiate deals and build bridges, which made him very successful when he was speaker of the Assembly in Sacramento.
Wesson’s election as president resulted from negotiations with the former City Council president, Councilman Eric Garcetti, who left the position vacant in order to run for mayor in March 2013. Garcetti led the council for six years, more than enough time for voters to evaluate his accomplishments and missteps when they vote for the next mayor.
Wesson, on the other hand, said he wants to make the council’s meetings move faster and control dramatic behavior during meetings. However, the biggest impact Wesson’s presidency might have will be leaving his mark on the municipal agenda and having a better relationship with Mayor Villaraigosa than his predecessor.
Los Angeles is facing great challenges, ranging from budget cuts to labor negotiations with municipal workers. To address them, Wesson will surely need all his negotiating skills.