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Nury Martinez elected as the first Latina president of the L.A city council.

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Nury Martinez, Los Angeles City Councilor, was elected president of the council on Tuesday and became the first Latina to hold the powerful position.

Martinez, the daughter of Mexican immigrants, will replace councilor Herb Wesson, who announced last week that he would resign as president to focus on his campaign for a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

The council unanimously chose Martinez in a 14-0 vote, without councilor Gil Cedillo. After the vote, Martinez spoke emotionally about her upbringing in Pacoima as the child of a dishwasher and a factory worker from the Mexican state of Zacatecas.

"When I was growing up, many little girls who look like me and talk like me didn't necessarily grow up with the idea that someday they could have these kinds of positions," Martinez said, adding that she wanted girls to know that they & # 39; grow up to be anything you want & # 39 ;.

Martinez, whose district in the eastern San Fernando Valley includes neighborhoods such as Arleta, Sun Valley and Panorama City, takes the position on January 5, 2020. She said that her agenda as a council president, which she will detail next month, will focus on children and helping families.

Martinez was elected to the city council after a victory afterwards in 2013 and only became the second Latina to serve. Her opponent had Martinez with 19 percentage points in the primary round, collected much more money than she had and had the approval of Mayor Eric Garcetti. But Martinez prevailed in the general election – a victory she attributed in part to knocking on doors in the district.

As a counselor, Martinez has argued for raising the minimum wage, a local "Green New Deal" aimed at environmental justice for poor communities of color and paid leave for new parents.

The typical blunt style of Martinez was seen last year during a discussion in the town hall about proposed rules for electric scooters and bicycles. She reminded her colleagues of her workers' elements.

"We don't have dockless bikes or fancy scooters in my district," she said. "We're just trying to cross the street without getting killed."

As chairman of the board, she has the power to decide when and how policy proposals are audited during public meetings. The president also elects councilors to lead committees overseeing key issues such as homelessness and property development.

Martinez takes over the helm of the council after a year in which two FBI raids were made at the town hall. When asked about public trust, Martinez told reporters on Tuesday that voters should & # 39; have confidence that their government works for them & # 39 ;, adding that & # 39; everyone is entitled to a fair trial and we must allow That process is taking place & # 39 ;.

Former council member Gloria Molina, the first Latina to be elected to the panel, has criticized the current council as over-supported by property developers and special interests, referring to the tax benefits that are regularly approved for new hotels and other developments.

"She has a real chance to make so much change, she has a chance to create a balance," said Molina Tuesday from Martinez.

Her election is "a very important achievement not only as a Latina but as a woman," Molina said. "It's still a man's game there."

Also on Tuesday, the council opted for councilor Joe Buscaino, who represents neighborhoods such as Watts and San Pedro, to succeed Martinez as president pro tempore, also with a 14-0 vote.

Times staff writer Emily Alpert Reyes contributed to this report.

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