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Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de Leon (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

A Division In The 14th District Over Kevin De Leon and the Recall Petition

The Globe asked several de Leon supporters and opponents what they think

By Evan Symon, December 15, 2022 5:29 pm

The Los Angeles 14th City Council District is a very split district. It encompasses the wealthy and gentrifying Eagle Rock, the poor and homeless-bound Skid Row, and the epicenter of Latinos in LA, Boyle Heights, going quickly from suburb to downtown LA. It’s a highly diverse district too. While Latinos have the biggest chunk of the population, there are also strong white, Asian, and black percentages in the district.

Los Angeles District 14 map (Photo: redistricting2021.lacity.org)

But it’s also split now in a very different way – namely, over what to do about their Councilman, Kevin de Leon. Before October of this year, de Leon already was pretty divisive. De Leon was beloved by many in the district for what he done helping Latinos and undocumented immigrants in the city, as well as for being in the Assembly and Senate in Sacramento. But he was also seen negatively for shady ways he got bills passed in Sacramento, escaping punishment for some wrong doings he made there (some of which involved then Assembly speaker/current LA Mayor Karen Bass), and then flat-out forgetting the pledge of allegiance.

Then, in October, it all changed. The racist recording scandal made de Leon a pariah overnight. Politicians from Governor Gavin Newsom to President Joe Biden called for his resignation. His refusal to resign has caused chaos, with City Council meetings brought to their knees every time he shows up due to the large number of protestors following him. And now a petition to recall him is active, with signatures currently being gathered for a possible recall vote next year.

But supporters and opponents wonder what the other side sees in him, and are completely torn by the possibility of a recall. The Globe decided to ask residents on both sides why they favor or oppose KDL, as the issue of his resignation or recall is just not going away any time soon.

“A lot of us support Councilmember Leon because of what he has, and continues to do, for us,” explained Ernesto Diaz, a supporter of de Leon’s for nearly 20 years to the Globe on Thursday. “A lot of people wonder why we are still for him, but you have to remember his career goes way beyond politics. He’s helped a lot of people who didn’t come into this country with the proper documentation. He’s defended us, and when serving people who knew Spanish but not English that well, he brought their concerns up. This is the de Leon we know.

“When that recording came out, we were as disappointed with him as anyone else. It was not right what he and [then Council President Nury] Martinez said. But he made a mistake. He apologized for it and has been grilled by the media for weeks and weeks now. He said something stupid while doing something [planning out redistricting] that he shouldn’t have been a part of.”

Another supporter in the district, who needed to be translated for, added that “De Leon cares about us and brings our concerns out. He shouldn’t have to go because he ran his mouth off one time.”

A possible recall election for de Leon

However, those against de Leon and currently trying to remove him from office have a different view.

“There is a long list of grievances against de Leon, but when he said those racist things, that was the career-ender right there,” noted Rachel Hayes-Martinez, a resident of the district in favor of the recall, to the Globe on Thursday. “The right thing to do would have been to resign. Martinez did. He was caught saying extremely racist things, was caught dividing up the city, has neglected most of his Council duties, and is now fighting people. A lot of people are using the goodwill of the past to defend him, but it only goes so far. This was unforgivable.”

“And there have been altercations over being for or against him. They don’t want to lost that Latino voice on the Council, but there are so many other Latino politicians who can handle that. When you are a Councilmember of a district, you need to represent everyone. And when you say something against a race of people, especially when many live in your very own district,  you’re done. De Leon thinks he can get around that.”

Michael Stairs, a black resident of the district, also noted to the Globe that “Keeping him in office, him not resigning. That is a slap in the face to all black people living here. That ugliness has brought out the best in people here though. White, black, Asian, and Latinos here saw this and joined together in saying how wrong this was. De Leon has a lot of support, but he is making everyone here mad at him too. A lot of people I know want to sign that petition. We need, not just want, him gone if we want to heal.”

The petition currently has until the end of March to get the number of signatures needed. If reached, a recall election would occur some time next year.

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Evan Symon
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3 thoughts on “A Division In The 14th District Over Kevin De Leon and the Recall Petition

  1. As Evan noted, Democrat LA Councilman Kevin De Leon is ethically challenged? No doubt he’ll fight to the bitter end to stay in power? What marketable skills does he have other than being a shady politician who could trade his influence for payoffs?

  2. Protesters are saying, “you lied to us”. Your speak to us out of both sides of your mouth.
    It is the hypocrisy that gets under people’s skin. On both sides of the aisle.
    Deal with that, Kevin.

    People don’t want governments that lie to them. It has been a rough past few years. Trump never lied, he was blunt and crude, he exaggerated for effect, he pushed back, but never fundamentally lied. That is the gut appeal of Donald Trump. We could use a lot more Trumps in our “civil service”.

    Kevin, you are no Donald J. Trump.

  3. Only among the LA city council, is it a bigger, massive sin to make a racist remark than it is to be corrupt, having the FBI go into their chambers and drag out and handcuff several members of the esteemed LA city council.

    Because except for maybe two council members, they are all corrupt and have no interest in helping the people who elected them, so I don’t know if Mr Leon should be flushed down the toilet or given a life raft.

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