Behind the scenes, the search for the next L.A. City Council president is under way

City Councilmember Katy Yaroslavsky, left, chats with Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson.
Los Angeles City Councilmember Katy Yaroslavsky, left, said she would support the election of her colleague, Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, to the council presidency.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to L.A. on the Record — our City Hall newsletter. It’s David Zahniser, with an assist from Dakota Smith, catching you up on the events of the past week.

Los Angeles City Council President Paul Krekorian has about seven months left before he will be forced to leave his post because of term limits.

Behind the scenes, his colleagues have already started discussing who should replace him.

Councilmember John Lee, who represents the northwest San Fernando Valley, told The Times that multiple colleagues have approached him about their interest in the council’s top leadership post. One of them, according to Lee, is Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who recently won reelection to a third term in his South L.A. district.

Councilmember Curren Price, in an interview, said he too has had conversations with Harris-Dawson about the position. “I told him I thought he would be a good president,” Price said.

Councilmember Katy Yaroslavsky was more emphatic, saying she supports Harris-Dawson for the job. “I like his politics,” she said. “And I think having a relationship, a close relationship, with the mayor is actually a good thing.”


Harris-Dawson, in an interview, declined to say whether he has secured enough votes to become president — or even whether he has been drumming up votes. However, he confirmed that he has been speaking with his colleagues about “what they would want in a president.”

“I can’t think of anybody I haven’t had a conversation with,” he said.

For those who don’t spend every minute inside City Hall, the question of who will be the next council president might sound like a parlor game for the politically connected. In reality, the post has serious power over city decision-making, and the lives of Angelenos.

Over the years, the council president has set the agenda, deciding when the big issues — ethics reform measures, increases to the city’s minimum wage, strategies for addressing homelessness — come up for a vote. The president determines the makeup of each council committee, including those with the most juice. The president also sets the tone for the council’s relationship with the mayor, deciding how aggressively to push back against a particular policy initiative or spending proposal.

Publicly, Harris-Dawson has been treading carefully, saying the council has only “one president at a time.” He said Krekorian, who became president in October 2022 in the wake of the audio leak scandal, is doing “a fine job.”

“The council presidency is a council issue. Like, it’s not a public debate issue,” Harris-Dawson said. “And so, you know, I try to be respectful of that.”

Krekorian, for his part, has not offered a date for relinquishing his leadership post. He told The Times he’d like to step aside “sometime after the summer,” to ensure a smooth transition for the next president well before his departure from the council in December.


“It is very valuable to have some ramp-up time after the time you’re selected as president to say, ‘OK, how do I do this job?’ ” he said.

During his presidency, Krekorian has been a reliable ally of Mayor Karen Bass, working with her as she secured additional powers to combat homelessness. Harris-Dawson is, by many accounts, among the mayor’s closest allies at City Hall.

In recent months, some on the council have begun suggesting that the legislative branch provide more of a check and balance on city spending decisions, including those carried out by the mayor.

Councilmember Monica Rodriguez, who represents the northeast Valley, has been pushing for additional public disclosure on Inside Safe, the Bass initiative that has moved more than 2,500 homeless people indoors over the past year and a half. On Friday, Rodriguez said she has not decided whom she would support.

“I want a president who will ensure that the council will retain its power and independence to ensure good public policy making,” Rodriguez said.

Yaroslavsky said Harris-Dawson will “be a check when we need to be a check.”

“But also, at a time when the city is as broken as it is, and as fractured as it is, having the mayor and the council rowing in the same direction and working well together, I think is really important,” she said.


Lee, the council member from the northwest Valley, said he expects the issues around the presidency to come into sharper focus after the council has approved a new city budget. He said he wants the next president to bring a “balanced voice” to the council on public safety, the L.A. economy and the needs of small businesses.

“I would hope that if we were able to vote to support him, that he would tag me as somebody who he could count on to give that, you know, perspective,” he said.


You may recall that Mayor Karen Bass’ budget for 2024-25 called for the elimination of roughly 2,100 vacant positions. On Thursday, the council’s budget committee voted to add back nearly 400 jobs, more than half of them at the Bureau of Street Services and the Department of Recreation and Parks.

How’d they do it? Chief Legislative Analyst Sharon Tso, the council’s top policy advisor, upped the city’s tax revenue projections. She also found $16 million in savings by providing updated staffing assumptions for the Los Angeles Police Department.

The five-member committee adopted those changes, finding that the LAPD will have 8,809 officers in July, when the fiscal year begins, down from an estimated 8,878. The committee also assumed that the number of officers who leave their jobs this year will be higher than Bass’ budget team projected.

Those moves, along with a few others, allowed the committee to preserve jobs at the fire department, the sanitation bureau, the city clerk’s office and several other agencies. Yet even with those changes, Councilmember Bob Blumenfield said the spending plan does not offer “a pretty picture.”

“This is not the budget that is going to make services work really well,” he said.

State of play

— BALLOT BATTLE: Organized labor was out in full force at City Hall on Tuesday, pressing the City Council to water down a ballot proposal aimed at increasing the power of the city’s Ethics Commission. Several reform proposals, including a tripling of ethics penalties, received the go-ahead from the council and are now expected to reach voters in November. However, Councilmembers Tim McOsker, Hugo Soto-Martínez, Eunisses Hernandez and Imelda Padilla succeeded in pushing for the removal of a provision that would have allowed the commission to send reform proposals directly to voters.


— THE UNION LABEL: Who pushed for those changes? A bunch of unions that regularly have business before City Hall, including Unite Here Local 11 (hotel workers); International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Locals 11 and 18 (construction trades, DWP workers); Service Employees International Union Local 721 (city employees); and many, many others. Also in the mix was the L.A. County Federation of Labor, which retained former City Council President Herb Wesson, now a lobbyist, to fight some of the ethics proposals.

SURGING SEWER FEES: In a more contentious vote, the council signed off on a plan to more than double the sewer fees charged to single-family homes, apartment buildings and businesses by 2028. Councilmember Katy Yaroslavsky, who heads the council’s energy and environment committee, led the charge for the higher fees. But four members voted no anyway: Padilla, Monica Rodriguez, Kevin de León and Heather Hutt. Property owners will still have the opportunity to weigh in on the increases in the coming months.

— ALLEGATIONS UNSEALED: An FBI agent alleged that former City Atty. Mike Feuer lied and probably obstructed justice in the government’s corruption probe of the city attorney’s office and the Department of Water and Power, according to court records unsealed Tuesday. Feuer, who was never charged with a crime, maintained his innocence this week.

— TALE OF THE TAPE: The LAPD concluded that a crime was committed by at least one former employee of the L.A. County Federation of Labor in connection with the secret recording of a conversation between three council members and a labor leader in 2021. However, the D.A.’s office declined to file charges, referring the case to City Atty. Hydee Feldstein Soto’s office for possible misdemeanor filings. The two employees have denied wrongdoing.

— A CZAR IS BORN: Who’s the homelessness czar for L.A.? At this point, it might just be U.S. Dist. Court Judge David O. Carter, who has been presiding over the lawsuit and settlement filed by the L.A. Alliance for Human Rights.

— MORE TRANSIT TROUBLES: Metro’s public transit system experienced more violence this week, with attacks reported in Glendale, Encino and South Los Angeles. The incidents spurred Mayor Karen Bass to call for a “surge” in law enforcement officers on the transit network’s trains, buses and rail platforms. Hours after she made that announcement, a man was shot to death while riding a Metro bus in the City of Commerce.

— LEADER OF THE PACK: Who’s the highest paid Los Angeles County employee? An anesthesiologist at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center who earned $1.26 million in 2023, that’s who. Dr. Sebo Amirkhanian Namagerdy worked an average of 94 hours per week last year, according to county records.


  • Where is Inside Safe? The mayor’s program to combat homelessness did not launch any new operations. Instead, Inside Safe teams went back to Lomita Boulevard in Harbor City and streets along a stretch of the 110 Freeway in South L.A. between 42nd and 58th streets, according to the mayor’s office.
  • On the docket for next week: The City Council has two meetings scheduled on the city budget. On Wednesday, the council is set to receive public comment on the mayor’s spending plan, and the budget committee’s proposed changes to it. On Thursday, the council is scheduled to take up the budget and make any last-minute changes.

Stay in touch

That’s it for this week! Send your questions, comments and gossip to Did a friend forward you this email? Sign up here to get it in your inbox every Saturday morning.