LA City Councilman Kevin de León Says of Voters: ‘If I Resign, They Would Have No Voice in City Hall’

LOS ANGELES (KABC) — In an interview with ABC7’s Marc Brown on Friday, embattled Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de León discussed his decision to remain in office despite widespread calls for him to resign.

The pressure for De León to resign stems from his involvement in a taped conversation in which Latino officials made crude, racist remarks and planned to expand their political power.

The scandal has already led to the resignation of former city council chairman Nury Martinez.

After speaking one-on-one with several news outlets this week, apologizing for what he described as a failure of leadership, De León was asked if he hopes the interviews will help him stay on as a council member .

“No, because – it’s at the end of the day – it’s not about me,” De León replied. “At the end of the day, it’s about my constituents’ vote for (Council District) 14 — a district that for decades, if not generations, has been historically marginalized for a variety of reasons. If I were to step down, then they wouldn’t have any voice in the town hall.”

Couldn’t there be someone else who could step in and represent the people of that district?

“I’m not the only one who can represent them, and I know that,” De León said. “But if a caretaker were to replace me, if I were to resign, then they wouldn’t have a vote at City Hall. That’s just the bottom line. This is a borough that’s been underrepresented, it’s a borough that’s been undersourcing , it’s a district that has been underfunded.”

The City Council met on Friday for the first time since De León announced that he does not plan to resign.

The council has so far conducted its business this week despite de León and councilor Gil Cedillo continuing to resist calls to resign, with only 10 members – the minimum for a quorum – present for most of Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s meetings. Neither de León nor Cedillo has attended a council meeting since last Tuesday, when they were forced to leave the chamber when protesters shouted at them.

The October 2021 conversation between De León and fellow council members Nury Martinez and Cedillo, along with Ron Herrera, president of the LA County Federation of Labor, included racist comments and discussions of favorable redistricting.

“That moment, that meeting that we’re talking about today — I failed at that moment,” De León told ABC7.

Does that mean that under no other circumstances has he failed in that way?

“No – under no other circumstances,” replied De León. “I failed when they degraded our Oaxacan community. It is a community that I love very much, that I have always stood up for, to protect the different dialects, the different indigenous groups of the Oaxacan community – Mixtecos, Zapotecos – I have always gone up.

“At that moment you couldn’t see it, but I had a different disparaging look on my face. But I should have expressed my opposition to what was said.”

What would convince De León to step down?

“At the end of the day, my constituents elected me,” he said. “That’s my constituents’ choice to make – if it’s their decision that I step forward and step down, then I’ll accept that.”

Members of the public who attended Friday’s City Council meeting, which was held virtually, expressed anger at De León and Cedillo’s continued tenure.

“Stop this meeting,” said one man during the public comment section. “No ‘business as usual’ with racist Kevin De León and Gil Cedillo on the City Council. The public is already deep in the work of recalling the KDL, but this council continues to fail its city as it continues to normalize the motives that we have seen these councilors express.”

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