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Councilman Herb Wesson has officially announced that he will not run to replace Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke when her term expires next year. This announcement comes at a time when the Black community is positioning itself to maintain its political power base, which many believe is in serious trouble. Wesson, who served as Burke's chief of staff and who was a favored candidate to succeed the Supervisor, has decided that he can serve the people of Los Angeles much more effectively as the 10th District councilman.
Wesson spoke to the Los Angeles Sentinel and said, "I made a decision knowing that I had a very good chance of winning the supervisor's race, but I have some unfinished projects here and I want to finish what I started. I enjoy what I am doing and enjoy working with the other council persons here, and I think I can make a difference."
The energy and experience that Wesson brought to City Hall are punctuated with accomplishments over a wide political spectrum. Before being an elected official, Wesson worked within the halls of city and county government gaining the knowledge and experience that eventually catapulted him into state government as an assemblyman and becoming the 65th Speaker of the State Assembly, one of the most powerful positions in the state, and a heartbeat from the governor.
When Burke announced that she would not seek re-election after her current term expires, many political observers felt that Wesson would be the next in line. The Supervisor has even stated that though she has not made any commitment to support any particular candidate, she would throw her support behind Wesson if he decided to run. But his decision not to run may be an inkling into what his future plans are - that he may really want to stay in City Hall, just a bit further up the ladder.
Supervisor Burke spoke to the Sentinel and said, "I was very surprised that he was not going to run. But he loves the city of Los Angeles and obviously he feels that he has greater opportunities there and he's done it so long and he seems to be enjoying it, so I have to respect his decision." When asked if she thinks that he'll run for mayor, she responded, "I suspect that's what he has in the back of his mind."
Wesson's district was the launching pad for Tom Bradley's political career as the first African American and the longest serving mayor of the city Los Angeles, and sources say that Wesson is positioning himself to follow Bradley's footsteps. Wesson was asked if the speculation that he may run for mayor has anything to do with his decision not to run for the supervisor's seat? He replied, "Who wouldn't want to be mayor of the greatest city on the planet?"
Now that Wesson has removed himself from the race, the suspense is mounting as to who will run to replace Burke. Even though none of the potential candidates has announced their candidacy or has even publicly showed an interest in running for the Board of Supervisor, the Sentinel ran a story couple of weeks ago entitled, "Who Will Replace Supervisor Burke?" naming Wesson as the lead candidate and five other likely candidates: Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Councilman Bernard Parks, State Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas, and Councilwomen Jan Perry and Janice Hahn.
During the interview with Supervisor Burke, she was asked, "Now, who do you think will fill your seat when you retire?"
She replied, "I have no idea. I'm sure that there'll be a lot of people who will be contesting it. But you never know. We're talking about something that's a year from now and Herb (Wesson) may even be talked out of it (not running). So let's see what happens between now and next June."