LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The Los Angeles City Council Tuesday elected Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson as the new president pro tempore to replace Curren Price, who stepped down from the position and faces possible suspension from the council after being charged with embezzlement, perjury and conflict of interest.
In a 12-to-0 vote, the council moved to appoint Harris-Dawson as president pro tempore with council members Monica Rodriguez and Curren Price absent from the vote. Price was not in attendance at Tuesday's meeting and he will not attend any of the remaining meetings this week, according to his office.
"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 on and take the desk."
Krekorian introduced a motion last week calling for the council to have an election at the next available council meeting for the position, and further moved to tap Harris-Dawson for the post.
"Very sobering," Harris-Dawson said. "It's a critical time for the body and a critical time for the city."
After being charged last week, Price announced his decision to step down as council president pro tem, and surrendered all of his committee assignments. He remains as a member of the City Council.
"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.
In a statement, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said the charges against Price are the "result of a thorough investigation into 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.
The charges allege that Price cast votes on projects involving developers with ties to his wife's consulting firm. He's also accused of embezzling money by having the city cover medical insurance premiums for his now-wife, even though Price was still married to his first wife at the time.
Price, 72, has represented the 9th District, which includes most of South Los Angeles and the western part of downtown Los Angeles, since 2013. He previously served in the state Assembly and state Senate.
A motion to suspend Price altogether will also be heard at some point. The motion's first step will be in the council's Rules Committee, before returning to the full council for a vote.
"The boat continues to rock," said Harris-Dawson. "Fortunately, we have folks like the leader of our counsel who know 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 latest Los Angeles city official to fall into legal or political turmoil. Former council members Jose Huizar and Mitch Englander have both pleaded guilty to federal charges in recent years, while Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas was convicted earlier this year of federal charges for trading votes during his time on the county Board of Supervisors in exchange for benefits provided by USC to his son.
Former City Council President Nury Martinez resigned last year after being caught on tape in a racially charged conversation with two other council members and a county labor official discussing the council's redistricting process.
City News Service contributed to this report.