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

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Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez 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 Thursday that, even though she wants to see a woman elected mayor, she intends to continue serving as council president.

“After all we’ve been through as a city, and all we have left to do to recover from this pandemic, L.A. needs stability and steady leadership,” said Martinez, who represents part of the San Fernando Valley.

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“I know I can best serve our city’s hardworking people and families as their council president,” she said in a statement.

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.

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.

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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.

In order to become 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 the past year and a half as council president, a period dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic fallout that followed.

During the crisis, Martinez has been in charge of the committee that distributed hundreds of millions of dollars for rent relief, homelessness services, and financial aid for people unable to pay their water and power bills.

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Martinez has also presided over more freewheeling council debates — particularly over strategies for responding to the economic crisis — than occurred under her predecessor, former Councilman Herb Wesson.

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

Times staff writer Benjamin Oreskes contributed to this report

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