LOS ANGELES — It’s been 2 1/2 months since Kevin de León engaged in racist remarks with fellow Council members Nury Martinez and Gil Cedillo in a leaked audio recording. Despite numerous calls for his resignation from all levels of government, a censure from LA City Council and a fist fight with an activist during a holiday party, de León reiterated he is not stepping down and responded to the most recent petition for his recall Friday in an appearance on Blog Talk Radio’s Earl Ofari Hutchinson Show.
“This is not the first or the second or the third, but it is the fourth recall attempt since I entered office,” said de León, who has represented Council District 14 since October 2020. “The first recall, the second, the third and the fourth is because I had the audacity to build tiny homes in a well-to-do neighborhood, relatively speaking to my district, in Eagle Rock.”
Led by Eagle Rock resident Pauline Adkins, recall organizers have made three earlier unsuccessful attempts in July 2021, February 2022 and May 2022, following de León’s support for building a 93-bed tiny home village for people experiencing homelessness in the Northeast LA community.
“If you don’t do what you campaign on, if you don’t lead in the face of much acrimony or anger and misinformation, then the situation doesn’t get better for the district or the city or your constituents,” de León told Hutchinson.
When asked what his constituents thought about the recall, de León said he had “enough anecdotal evidence to state with some sense of certainty that they’re not happy with the process of the recall.”
In October, organizers filed a notice of intent to circulate a recall petition against de León. The LA city clerk approved that petition on Dec. 6. Organizers need to collect signatures from 20,437 registered voters in Council District 14 by March 31 for the recall to proceed. De León’s term would otherwise end in December 2024.
“I’ve had numerous conversations not just with my own constituents within my own district but conversations with folks outside of my district, in particular our Black community here in the city of LA. It’s been constructive. It has been positive. It has been healing. It has been forward looking,” de León said. “I will be honest. It hasn’t all been easy, but it’s been necessary for me as an individual, not just as a council member, but as a resident, as a friend, as a neighbor, to atone, which is very important to me as a human being.”
In the leaked audio recording, de León was part of a conversation where City Council president Martinez called then-Council member Mike Bonin’s 2-year-old son a little monkey, to which de León replied the child was being used as a prop similar to one of Martinez’s designer handbags.
While Martinez resigned her position in October, Council member Gil Cedillo, who was also part of the leaked audio, and de León both refused multiple calls to resign. Cedillo has since been replaced by Eunisses Hernandez, who won the primary in June.
De León said he plans to work with his City Council colleagues, despite several members saying they would not work with him.
“I can only hope to make amends and heal those bonds,” he said, adding that he hopes he will be able to work with the city’s new council members.
De León reiterated to Hutchinson that he does not plan to resign “because the person who is describing me is not who I am,” he said. “I’ve never been that person — now, in the past, nor present, nor will I ever be that person in the future. Once the narrative is created, and once the media moves forward with that narrative, it doesn’t make it true. The visceral emotion does not fit the facts.”