Marqueece Harris-Dawson secures enough support to become the next L.A. City Council president

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 08: Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson is running for reelection for a seat in L.A. City Council District 8 this year. Photographed on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024 in Los Angeles, CA. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, pictured earlier this year. Seven of his colleagues have nominated him to become the next council president. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Marqueece Harris-Dawson has secured enough backing from his colleagues to become the next president of the Los Angeles City Council.

On Friday, seven council members introduced a motion calling for Harris-Dawson to fill the post, giving him the required eight-member majority, once his own vote is included.

Councilmembers Eunisses Hernandez, Heather Hutt, John Lee, Curren Price, Nithya Raman, Hugo Soto-Martínez and Katy Yaroslavsky signed the motion supporting Harris-Dawson, who has represented a South L.A. district for nearly nine years.

Under the council's rules, the motion will automatically trigger a vote on Harris-Dawson's bid for the presidency on Tuesday. Harris-Dawson, reelected to a third council term earlier this year, would become president on Sept. 20, according to the motion.

"We're excited about the vote, and the office is grateful for the support on the council," said Harris-Dawson spokesperson Rhonda Mitchell.

The motion came three days after Council President Paul Krekorian sent a letter to his colleagues disclosing his plan to step down from the leadership post on Sept. 20. Krekorian became president nearly two years ago, in the wake of an audio leak scandal that prompted the resignation of former Council President Nury Martinez.

A change in council presidents could have a major impact on policymaking at City Hall. The president has the power to decide when issues are included on a meeting agenda. The president also decides the makeup of council committees dealing with public safety, personnel matters, transportation, the environment and many other issues.

Harris-Dawson has support from the council's left flank, which has argued in favor of scaling back police spending and expanding tenant protections. Those members — Hernandez, Raman and Soto-Martínez — opposed a recent package of raises for LAPD officers and, on Thursday, voted no on Mayor Karen Bass' budget.

As president, Harris-Dawson could place those members on the council's powerful budget committee, giving them greater freedom to rework the mayor's spending plan from the moment it is released. Harris-Dawson could also add more of them to the committee that oversees public safety and policing, where Soto-Martínez already occupies a seat.

First elected in 2015, Harris-Dawson represents a district that takes in a large portion of South Los Angeles, including lengthy stretches of Western Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard. He is considered a close ally of Bass, who represented a portion of South L.A. during her time as a legislator.

Harris-Dawson spent several years as the president and chief executive of Community Coalition, a community-based nonprofit and advocacy group that was founded by Bass in 1990. He took over that role in 2004, replacing Bass.

Last week, Harris-Dawson told The Times that he has been speaking with his colleagues about what they want in a president. He said he heard from them that they "want to spend more time in their districts" working on constituent issues.

"It's something that you hear from everybody," he said, adding: "We need to build a work schedule that accommodates that."

Harris-Dawson also picked up support from Lee, who represents the northwest San Fernando Valley and is among the council's most politically conservative members. Lee told The Times a few weeks ago that he hoped Harris-Dawson, if elected president, would bring balance to City Hall on such issues as the economy and public safety.

Harris-Dawson endorsed Lee's bid for another term in the March 5 election, as did Bass.

"I've worked very well with all the members of the council, and that includes Harris-Dawson," Lee said recently. "Some people might find that a surprise, but we've worked very well together."

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.