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L.A. City Council President Nury Martinez won’t run for mayor in 2022

Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez
Los Angeles City Council president Nury Martinez, pictured last year, said Thursday that she won’t enter the mayor’s race.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez announced Thursday that she has ruled out a run for mayor, saying the city needs stable political leadership as it emerges from the pandemic and the economic downturn that accompanied it.

Martinez said in an interview that, even though she wants to see a woman elected mayor, she has decided to continue serving as council president, focusing on homelessness, the economic recovery, job growth, housing production and crime.

“I think L.A. needs stability. It needs steady leadership,” said Martinez, who represents part of the San Fernando Valley. “And I’m not worried about what’s next for myself. I’m more focused on what’s before us, and I know I can best serve the city as council president.”

Martinez, known for her blunt speaking style and her focus on working-class issues, would have upended the race had she jumped in. The contest currently features just two major political figures — City Atty. Mike Feuer and Councilman Joe Buscaino — a situation that has caused some civic leaders to cast around for alternatives.

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Martinez, 48, grew up in Pacoima and is the daughter of Mexican immigrants — one a dishwasher, the other a factory worker. Her decision to stay out of the race comes roughly a month after Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, a veteran politician who represents part of South Los Angeles, also declined to pursue a mayoral bid.

City Atty. Mike Feuer and Councilman Joe Buscaino are the only major political figures running in the June 2022 mayor’s race. Some are not pleased about that.

Still, the contest to replace Garcetti could soon get more crowded.

Councilman Kevin de León, a former state Senate president, has been weighing a run for several months. U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) is now considering a campaign. And real estate developer Rick Caruso has retained consultants to gauge his own likelihood of success.

Martinez represents a district that includes Van Nuys, Panorama City, Lake Balboa and Arleta. So far, the most significant candidate to emerge from the vote-rich Valley is real estate agent Mel Wilson, who spent several years on the board of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

In recent weeks, Martinez sounded reluctant to give up her post presiding over the 15-member council, which has enormous influence over local legislation, public policy and real estate development.

To run for mayor, “I’d have to give up the presidency, which is the most powerful position in the city,” Martinez told The Times last week.

Martinez, first elected to the council in 2013, has spent nearly two years as council president, a period dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic fallout that followed. She was entering her third month as president when much of the city shut down.

In the period that followed, Martinez led the committee that distributed hundreds of millions of dollars for rent relief, business aid, programs to assist homeless Angelenos and financial aid for people unable to pay their water and power bills.

Ron Herrera, president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, said Martinez has been a champion for working families during her presidency, pushing for aid programs, workplace protections and, most recently, vaccine requirements for city workers.

“I admire her for taking a strong stance,” he said. “A lot of folks you hear talking about it, they’ll play middle of the road. She squarely took a position of advocating for the vaccine, and that folks do get vaccinated.”

Critics of Martinez have taken a more negative view, saying she has been too quick to cancel meetings during the pandemic and placed too many restrictions on the public’s ability to speak at virtual city meetings. Some homeless advocates have been protesting outside her Sun Valley home, arguing that her push to remove encampments from public spaces effectively criminalizes poverty.

Martinez also has been serving as acting mayor when Garcetti is traveling out of state. Garcetti has been nominated by President Biden to become U.S. ambassador to India, but is awaiting a confirmation hearing.

Under the City Charter, Martinez would become acting mayor if Garcetti departs ahead of schedule. However, council members also would have the power to select a different person as interim mayor to complete the unfinished portion of Garcetti’s term.

Martinez said she has not ruled out the idea of serving as interim mayor. However, she said she is “also not interested in playing political games” regarding the post.

Times staff writer Benjamin Oreskes contributed to this report.


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