LA City Council Elects Marqueece Harris-Dawson As President Pro Tempore, Replacing Curren Price

The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday chose Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson to take over as president pro tempore in place of Curren Price, who resigned from the office and is now under investigation for alleged theft, perjury, and conflicts of interest. Price could be expelled from the council.

With council members Monica Rodriguez and Curren Price missing, the council voted 12-to-0 to elect Harris-Dawson as president pro tempore. According to his office, Price did not attend the meeting on Tuesday and he will not attend any of the other meetings this week.

“With that vote, I’m pleased to congratulate our new Council President Pro Tem Marqueece Harris-Dawson,” Council President Paul Krekorian said. “I’d like to ask you to come up and take the desk.”

Last week, Krekorian moved to appoint Harris-Dawson to the position and submitted a resolution requesting that the council hold an election for the job at the following council meeting.

“Very sobering,” Harris-Dawson said. “It’s a critical time for the body and a critical time for the city.”

Price announced his resignation as council president pro tem and relinquished all of his committee duties after being charged last week. He is still a councilman for the city.

“While I navigate through the judicial system to defend my name against unwarranted charges filed against me, the last thing I want to do is be a distraction to the people’s business,” Price wrote in a letter to Krekorian.

According to a DA spokeswoman, L.A. City Councilman Curren Price has been accused of multiple counts of embezzlement, perjury, and conflict of interest.

The accusations against Price, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, are “the result of a thorough investigation into the allegation of public corruption.”

“This alleged conduct undermines the integrity of our government and erodes the public’s trust in our elected officials,” he added.

According to the accusations, Price participated in voting on initiatives involving developers with ties to his wife’s consulting business. Additionally, Price is accused of embezzling funds by having the city pay the medical insurance payments for his now-wife while he was still legally wed to his first wife.

Since 2013, Price, 72, has served as the 9th District’s representative, which encompasses the majority of South Los Angeles and the western portion of Downtown Los Angeles. He formerly held seats in the state Senate and Assembly.

At some point, a motion to completely suspend Price will also be heard. Before going back to the entire council for a vote, the move will first be discussed in the rules committee of the council.

“The boat continues to rock,” said Harris-Dawson. “Fortunately, we have folks like the leader of our counsel who knows how to navigate this situation, and we’re confident that we will navigate. The situation and will come out of this stronger.”

But for residents of the 9th District, there are still concerns since Price has not stepped down and has not attended any meetings.

“We’re already a district that is very poor and has a lot of needs,” said Elizabeth Hernandez, a resident of the area. “We need to move fast. We need to think ahead and get someone to represent us as soon as possible.”

Price is the most recent official from Los Angeles to experience legal or political difficulties. Earlier this year, Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas was found guilty of federal charges for trading votes while serving on the county Board of Supervisors in exchange for benefits USC provided to his son. Former council members Jose Huizar and Mitch Englander have both pleaded guilty to federal charges in recent years.

After being overheard on tape discussing the council’s redistricting procedure with two other council members and a county labour official, former City Council President Nury Martinez resigned last year.

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