Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de Leon announced his candidacy for Mayor on Tuesday, becoming the third major candidate to enter the 2022 race since last year.
The son of Guatemalan-American and Chinese-American parents, de Leon first worked as an illegal immigrant documentation worker and as a labor organizer for the California Teacher’s Association (CTA) before becoming the campaign manager for then-Assemblyman Fabian Nunez in 2002. Following his graduation from Pitzer College the next year, de Leon remained involved in politics until deciding to run for the state Assembly in 2006. Winning as a Democrat, de Leon spent the next four years there, even facing a scandal in which he was accused of “ghost voting” for another Assembly member while they were away. Despite being investigated by then Assemblywoman and future Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA), he was soon cleared of the charge.
In 2010 he was elected to the state Senate, becoming a large proponent of renewable energy and gun control legislation. De Leon also made further gaffes, such as calling the Central Valley as “the middle of nowhere and tumbleweeds” during an argument over the high-speed rail system. Following a U.S. Senate loss to Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and leaving the State Senate as it’s President in 2018, de Leon returned as a Los Angeles City Councilman in 2020. Since then, he has been known for opposing denser-housing bills, such as SB 9, being a proponent of “tiny home” homeless shelters, and being against the expansion of some public transit lines in his Northern-LA district.
At a press conference Tuesday morning at the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, de Leon announced his candidacy for Mayor, pressing specifically on issues such as affordable housing and homelessness in his speech.
“I’m running for every worker who was called essential but treated like they were expendable,” said the Councilman on Tuesday. “I’m running for the neighborhoods that were crushed by COVID-19 while others were spared. I’m running for everyone who is caught up in the worst humanitarian crisis in America today – our homelessness pandemic.”
De Leon joins Feuer, Buscaino in race
De Leon is now the third major candidate to enter the face, following Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, who entered the race last year, and Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino, who entered in March. In total, de Leon has become the 11th candidate to enter the race, as well as the first prominent Latino.
While a few prominent lawmakers have already said they would not run, including City Council President Nury Martinez, other prominent lawmakers are expected to announce their runs soon, including former Los Angeles Unified School District President Austin Beutner and de Leon political rival Congresswoman Bass.
“De Leon has had a roller coaster ride as a politician,” Los Angeles issue advisor Ramon Martin told the Globe on Tuesday. “And he has butted heads with Bass up in Sacramento and both Buscaino and Feuer down in LA. Plus, let’s not forget him almost becoming a Senator a few years ago in Washington. He was the closest ever to unseating Feinstein and probably would have if she didn’t make a late-stage attack on him for not being progressive enough and actually comparing him to Trump.”
“He wants to be back at a high position after losing out in Sacramento and Washington. He went back to his LA roots, became a Councilman, and now wants more as Mayor.”
The candidates currently have nine months to prepare their bids, as the primary election in set for June 2022, with a runoff election in November 2022. The winner will replace current Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is being term-limited out of office and is expected to become the next Ambassador to India soon.
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