As New Leaders Take Office, Los Angeles Struggles With Ongoing Wounds

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Yet another council vacancy will be filled with a new leader early next year, when a special election is held to fill the office of the former council president, Nury Martinez, who resigned in the aftermath of the audio scandal. On the recording, Ms. Martinez, who is Mexican American, made disparaging and racist remarks about the Black son of a fellow council member, as well as Oaxacan immigrants and other ethnic groups.

Still more turmoil awaits City Hall as court proceedings unfold in public corruption cases involving one former council member and another who has been suspended.

Ms. Bass, who has represented Los Angeles for years in the State Legislature and Congress, campaigned on a vow to help lead the city to consensus, building coalitions in the diverse and teeming metropolis of four million people. But the challenge is formidable as the city continues to grapple with quality of life issues that have festered since the pandemic, reflecting a struggle that has occurred nationally.

Tent camps dot sidewalks citywide — one downtown encampment, in fact, was dismantled last week, its occupants moved to hotel rooms, to make room for a celebration of Ms. Bass’s inauguration before incoming storms forced the festivities indoors at L.A. Live, a downtown entertainment complex. In her inauguration speech, Ms. Bass said her first act as mayor will be to declare a state of emergency on homelessness, a step toward creating a citywide strategy to “move people inside for good.”

Crime rates, while far lower than their peak in the 1990s, have risen, and a citywide poll done this year by Mr. Guerra’s research center found that for the first time since 2012, a majority of Angelenos felt the city was going in the wrong direction.

And that was before Mr. de León, Ms. Martinez and a third Latino council member, Gil Cedillo, were caught on a recording last year strategizing in blunt and occasionally bigoted terms to consolidate power for themselves and the city’s Latino communities as the city’s redistricting maps were being redrawn.

The group believed that their conversation, which included a powerful local labor leader who also resigned, was private, but it was being secretly recorded and was later uploaded to Reddit. Mr. Cedillo, who lost a bid for re-election before the recording’s emergence, has apologized for not cutting the conversation short but has not stepped down and will leave office on Monday. He has not returned to the council chambers since the scandal, and investigations have since ensued into the unlawful recording, the leak and the city’s redistricting process.

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