Kevin de León, one of the Los Angeles City Council members caught up in an audio-recorded racist conversation with other public officials last year, revealed Wednesday that he’s running for reelection.
De León once considered one of the biggest rising stars in California’s Democratic party, first shared the news with Politico, saying that despite everyone from Gov. Gavin Newsom to President Joe Biden calling for his resignation in the wake of the scandal, he still feels support from the Angelenos he represents.
“When a lot of people that I called my friends and allies turned away from me, my constituents had my back,” De León, who once led the state Senate, told the outlet. “I understood in a deeper way the relationship that I had with my community and how that motivates and drives me. That’s why I’m still here. And that’s why I’m running.”
De León was one of four city officials secretly recorded in the notorious conversation released by The Los Angeles Times last year, though it was recorded in 2021. In it, the since-resigned Council President Nury Martinez makes several racist and insensitive remarks, including saying the Black son of council member Mike Bonin “parece changuito” ― Spanish for “is like a monkey.”
L.A. City Councilman Kevin de León is running again.
De León ― whose district covers downtown Los Angeles, Boyle Heights, El Sereno and Eagle Rock ― joined in on the joke, saying Bonin handled his son the way Martinez carries her Louis Vuitton bag. Despite increasingly louder calls for his resignation, he was steadfast in his refusal, though he admitted he “shouldn’t have made that flippant remark.”
Now-former Council member Gil Cedillo, one of the other officials secretly recorded, also refused to resign, but Martinez’s replacement removed them both from committee chairmanships and assignments.
De León has several potential challengers, The Los Angeles Times reported, including state Assemblymembers Wendy Carrillo and Miguel Santiago and tenant advocate Ysabel Jurado, who served in former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s administration.
The primary race for de León’s spot is scheduled for March. If no one receives a majority vote, a run-off between the top two contenders will occur the following November.