Bringing in a mix of state political experience with local activism, the new Los Angeles City Council held its first meeting Tuesday and re-elected Councilman Herb Wesson as president.
Wesson, starting off his term on a quirky note, presented the members with colorful socks.
"The young people in my office told me these are cool," Wesson said after the 13-0 vote to re-elect him. "Sometimes I get devilish. And as part of that, we are going to have periodic weird sock days where we all will have to wear these."
Wesson, who pulled up his pants leg to show he was wearing a pair of the socks, then hosted a picnic lunch for the new members, their families and staff as a way to welcome the council's five new members, the largest turnover in 12 years.
Seven council members now have extensive experience in Sacramento, serving previously as legislators before being forced out by term limits. The other council members came up through staff positions or working in the community.
New Mayor Eric Garcetti visited the City Council chambers to welcome the new members and pledge his support to work with them on the issues facing the city.
"I wanted to wish you well as you start at City Hall," Garcetti said. "We will work together on the problems we face as a city."
Councilman Bernard Parks, who has feuded with Wesson before, was absent for the vote. His staff described his absence as a family issue, although prior to the council meeting Parks attended a news conference promoting the July Fourth fireworks show at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Parks has been at odds with Wesson for the past two years, stemming from a battle over the redistricting of the City Council districts. Wesson also had removed Parks as chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee.
There is also one vacancy on the council -- created when former Councilman Tony Cardenas was elected to Congress -- which will be filled in a special election on July 23.
Wesson told the council that he views his job like a quarterback.
"I will not be holding a lot of press conferences," Wesson said. "I will not be taking the credit. My job is to make sure you all get enough touches so that you are able to deliver on the promises you made to your constituents."
Wesson also used his speech as an opportunity to lecture the members on the need to arrive on time to meetings at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays as well as to limit the length of time for honorary presentations.
"In this case, less is more," Wesson said.
The council also selected Councilman Mitch Englander to serve as president pro tem and Councilman Tom LaBonge assistant pro tem.
Wesson also released his list of committee assignments for the new council.
He elevated Englander to chair of the Public Safety Committee, Councilman Jose Huizar to chair of Planning and LaBonge to chair of Trade, Commerce and Tourism, while keeping Councilman Paul Krekorian in charge of Budget and Finance. Councilman Joe Buscaino will chair the Public Works and Gang Reduction Committee. Parks will remain chair of the Education and Neighborhoods Committee.
Councilman Felipe Fuentes was named chair of the Energy and Environment Committee that oversees the Department of Water and Power, and Councilman Bob Blumenfield was named chair of the Innovation, Technology and General Services Committee.
Councilman Mitch O'Farrell was named chair of the Arts, Parks, Health, Aging and River Committee, Councilman Curren Price was named chair of the Economic Development Committee and Councilman Gil Cedillo is chair of the Housing Committee.
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