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The Women of the Los Angeles City Council: Part Four

Social Science, Philosophy and Religion Department, Central Library,
City of Los Angeles Councilwomen: Janice Hahn, Jan C. Perry, Wendy Greuel, Nury Martinez, and Monica Rodriguez
City of Los Angeles Councilwomen: Janice Hahn, Jan C. Perry, Wendy Greuel, Nury Martinez, and Monica Rodriguez

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we are highlighting the women who have served as councilmembers of the Los Angeles City Council. Make sure you check out our previous three posts to learn about these remarkable women.

During this week of Women’s History Month, we are featuring five of the city’s most recent women councilmembers: Janice Hahn, Jan C. Perry, Wendy Greuel, Nury Martinez, and Monica Rodriguez.

Councilwoman Janice Hahn
Janice Hahn, council member for the 15th District of Los Angeles, at City Hall for an event honoring her brother, James K. Hahn, whose mayoral term of office was coming to an end, [2005]. Gary Leonard Collection

Janice Hahn [b. 1952] 15th Council District, 2001-2011
Harbor City, Harbor Gateway, San Pedro, Watts, Wilmington

Janice Hahn was born in Los Angeles and raised in a political dynasty that included her father, Kenneth Hahn, a forty-year Los Angeles County Supervisor and one of the most influential elected officials in Los Angeles history. However, Hahn has carved out her own extensive career in local and national politics. In 1997 she was elected to the City Charter Reform Commission, where she was an advocate of the newly created neighborhood councils. Hahn then won a 2000 special election to represent the 15th Council District on the Los Angeles City Council. She was chairwoman of the newly formed Committee on Education and Neighborhoods, which oversaw the neighborhood councils she had supported as a commissioner. Strongly pro-labor, Hahn stood with striking Port of Los Angeles workers and pushed back against the federal government’s threat to get involved in negotiations. Hahn was instrumental in the passage of the Clean Air Action Plan, which reduced emission significantly at the Port of Los Angeles. An advocate for youth gang prevention, Hahn’s proposition to levy a parcel tax to provide $30 million in funding for intervention programs fell just short of the two-thirds threshold it needed to pass on the ballot. Reelected in 2005 and 2009, Hahn left the Council following her election to the United States Congress in 2011. After three terms, Hahn grew frustrated with Washington gridlock, resigned from Congress, and followed in her father’s footsteps to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, where she has served since 2016.

Councilwoman Jan Perry
Jan Perry, Councilwoman for the 9th District, addressing the city council during a meeting, [2005]. Gary Leonard Collection

Jan C. Perry [b. 1955] 9th Council District, 2001-2013
South Park, Civic Center, Financial District, Bunker Hill, Little Tokyo

A long-time public servant, Perry first worked as chief of staff for Councilwoman Rita Walters, before her election in 2001 to represent the 9th Council District on the Los Angeles City Council. Perry proved to be more pro-development than her predecessor and former boss Walters, a stance she attributed to term limits and an urgency to see projects completed. Perry was credited with much of Downtown’s revitalization, and her tenure oversaw the opening of such prominent projects as L.A. Live, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Perry was also known for her efforts in addressing homelessness; she conducted monthly Skid Row walks to meet with constituents, and pushed through projects for low-income housing and an expansion of the Downtown Women’s Center. Concerned with access to greenspace, Perry authored a voter-approved water bond that partially funded the South L.A. Wetlands Park, which opened in 2012 and was renamed the Jan Perry Wetlands. Near the end of Perry’s third and final term, a bitter redistricting battle saw most of Downtown carved out of the 9th Council District and inserted into the 14th Council District. After failing to make the runoff in the 2013 mayor’s race, Perry endorsed eventual winner Eric Garcetti, who as Mayor appointed her general manager of the Economic and Workforce Development Department, a new agency formed to spur business activity and employment in the city. Perry held that role until becoming executive director of the Infrastructure Funding Alliance in January 2019, where she currently works.

L.A. Council members, Janice Hahn, Wendy Greuel and Jan Perry at Chinese New Year parade
L.A. Council members, Janice Hahn, Wendy Greuel, and Jan Perry at Chinese New Year parade, [2004]. Gary Leonard Collection

Wendy Greuel [b. 1961] 2nd Council District, 2002-2009
Sunland-Tujunga, Shadow Hills, La Tuna Canyon

Growing up in the San Fernando Valley, Wendy Greuel got an early start in politics serving on Mayor Tom Bradley’s Youth Advisory Council in the late 1970s. After college, Greuel went on to work as an aide in Bradley’s administration, where she focused on a wide range of public policy issues including child care, senior care, homelessness, housing, public health, and education. She then went to work for the Clinton administration, where she was regional administrator of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and oversaw the response to the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Returning to local politics, Greuel won a hotly contested 2002 special election to fill a vacant 2nd Council District seat on the Los Angeles City Council. As a councilwoman, Greuel quickly earned the nickname “Queen of Potholes” for personally supervising street repairs in her district. She focused on many practical measures, such as passing ordinances cracking down on street racing, and providing small business tax relief. As chair of the Transportation Committee, Greuel created strategies for reducing traffic congestion, like synchronizing traffic signals and increasing carpool lanes on the 405 freeway. Elected to a full term in 2003 and reelected in 2007, Greuel served as President Pro Tempore for several years. She vacated her Council seat early when she was elected Los Angeles City Controller, a position she held from 2009 to 2013. Though she lost both a 2013 mayoral race and a 2014 bid for Congress, Greuel has remained involved in city governance, serving as a member of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

Councilmember Nury Martinez swearing in ceremony
Councilmember Nury Martinez swearing in ceremony, [2013]. Photo credit: Gary Leonard

Nury Martinez [b. 1973] 6th Council District, 2013 -
Sun Valley, North Hollywood, Van Nuys, North Hills, Panorama City

A daughter of immigrants, Nury Martinez has dedicated her life to public service in the eastern San Fernando Valley where she was born and raised. She first served on the City of San Fernando Council from 2003-2009, followed by the LAUSD school board from 2009-2013, before she won a 2013 special election to represent the 6th Council District on the Los Angeles City Council. At the time, she was the only woman on the Council and the first Latina member elected since 1987. Previously the executive director of Pacoima Beautiful, an environmental justice organization, Martinez has proposed a “Green New Deal” agenda and implemented illegal dumping cleanup and sidewalk repair programs in her district. Martinez also created a task force to aid victims of human trafficking, helped move forward an ordinance for paid parental leave, and with her colleagues raised the minimum wage to $15 per hour in Los Angeles. In 2015, Martinez was elected to her first full term, then reelected in a landslide victory in 2020. In January 2020, Martinez became the first Latina City Council President in the Council’s 170-year history. Soon after, the global pandemic emerged, and Martinez authored a measure establishing a $100-million rent relief program for Angelenos economically affected by the coronavirus. More recently, Martinez led the City Council in approving public safety reforms, including the diversion of non-violent services away from LAPD to appropriate non-law enforcement agencies and professionals.

Councilmember Monica Rodriguez speaking at a council meeting
Councilmember Monica Rodriguez speaking at a council meeting, [2020]. Photo credit: Gary Leonard

Monica Rodriguez [b. 1974] 7th Council District, 2017-
Sylmar, Pacoima, Lake View Terrace, Sunland-Tujunga

The daughter of working-class immigrants and lifelong resident of the northeast San Fernando Valley, Monica Rodriguez began an early career in public service while attending Occidental College. She served as an aide to two previous council members and worked in Mayor Richard Riordan’s administration, where she led community revitalization efforts and co-founded an after-school program for at-risk youth. She later worked as an executive with the California Association of Realtors, where she spearheaded a program to protect families from foreclosure during the economic downtown. She launched her first bid for a City Council seat in 2007 and lost against her former boss. Deciding against a run in 2013, she instead accepted Mayor Eric Garcetti’s invitation to serve on the Board of Public Works, where she started a rain barrel program, among other accomplishments. In 2017, Rodriguez was elected to the Los Angeles City Council to represent the 7th Council District, becoming the third Latina councilwoman in the city’s history, after Martinez and Molina. A member of the Public Land Use and Management Committee, in 2019 Rodriguez helped move forward an ordinance to enact safer building practices. In response to the 2020 global pandemic, Rodriguez called on Mayor Garcetti to impose a moratorium on debt collection and declare collection agencies nonessential businesses, a proposal which was applauded by consumer protection and anti-poverty groups.