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Kevin de León. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Recall Effort Against LA City Councilman Kevin De Leon Fails

Petition falls short 10,000 signatures in de Leon’s district

By Evan Symon, April 5, 2023 2:21 am

The recall effort against Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de Leon ended this week as the petition to put the question of recalling the Councilman in his district came up around 10,000 signatures short of the roughly 21,000 needed.

In October, De Leon, along with then-City President Nury Martinez, Councilman Gil Cedillo, and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera, were found to have made multiple racist and racial comments following an audio leak of the four talking during a district realigning meeting in 2021. While many things were said, the most controversial part was when they began discussing a fellow Councilman who is white and openly gay, Mike Bonin. Specifically they talked about his black child and a picture with Bonin and his family in a Martin Luther King Jr. parade.

“Bonin thinks he’s f—ing black,” said Martinez in the audio, pointing out the picture. “He handled his young Black son as though he were an accessory. They’re raising him like a little White kid. I was like, this kid needs a beatdown. Let me take him around the corner and then I’ll bring him back.”

Martinez then proceeded to use slurs against the eight-year-old child, saying in Spanish “Parece changuito” or in English, “He’s like a monkey.” Councilman de Leon then added, “Bonin handles the toddler like when Nury brings her little yard bag or the Louis Vuitton bag. Su negrito, like on the side.”

In addition to the racist words, the four were also heard plotting to reorganize Council lines to decrease the power of black Councilmembers and others in the city.

In the ensuing weeks, all four made multiple apologies, both Martinez and Herrera resigned and Cedillo decided to ride out the rest of his term until December as a lame duck Councilmember. However, calls for de Leon to resign came from the majority of Angelinos, as well as Mayor Eric Garcetti, Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA), Governor Gavin Newsom, and President Joe Biden. Protests have also been constant against both de Leon and Cedillo, with protestors even appearing outside de Leon’s house non-stop.

Recall petition comes up 10,000 votes shy

Despite this, de Leon refused to resign, and continued to cause chaos. This included instigating a fight with a protester, and causing huge scenes at City Council meetings, some of which he had to leave after only 20 minutes inside City Hall. A recall effort also grew, with a petition being officially started in December. For many, it looked like a sure thing that his recall would be on the ballot this year, as polls showed that the majority of the people in his district wanted him gone.

However, outrage quickly waned earlier this year, as the scandal was cycled out of the news and other pressing matters occurred in Los Angeles, such as a new pushing on homeless housing reform and dealing with record rainfall in the city. De Leon staying relatively quiet in recent months also significantly cooled the recall movement, as did a revival of support from the Latino community.

With petitioning ending on Friday, the signatures were counted. On Monday it was revealed that only 10,300 had been gathered out of a needed 20,437 from District 14, well short of the goal. De Leon then released a statement on Tuesday, thanking supporters for keeping him in until his term ends next year.

“My North Star has always been improving the quality of life for the people I represent,” said de Leon. “Through thick and thin, our community remains focused on the important battles at hand like homelessness, strengthening our local businesses, and protecting working families. Today’s outcome is proof that for my constituents, actions speak louder than words.”

While de Leon is now safe in office for now barring another scandal, political experts noted to the Globe on Tuesday that the scandal would likely hurt de Leon’s chances of ever reaching another higher office ever again.

“A lot of people underestimated just how much support de Leon has from the Latino community,” Maria Costa, a Los Angeles pollster who focuses on Latino communities, told the Globe Tuesday. “That’s what saved him this time around. But he’s on thin ice now. This isn’t a scandal you can fully get away from. Saying racist things does not bode well for getting a higher office. In fact, when his term runs out in 2024, he is going to have a hard time winning the district. Whoever runs against him, especially a younger Latino, is going to have plenty of ammunition from this scandal. The Latinos in his district saved him from a recall election, but if he ever tries anything outside his district, like a run for a state office or bigger city office, he is not safe. Even within his district, he’s just hanging on. And he knows it.”

An election to fill Martinez’s open Council seat takes place on Tuesday.

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4 thoughts on “Recall Effort Against LA City Councilman Kevin De Leon Fails

  1. Last I checked Kevin wasn’t even sitting on the council because every time he enters the chamber he is pelted with boos and screams and cursing. And yet if he goes someone even worse will be installed, and that’s really saying something.
    The rumor is that the rain kept the recallers from collecting the signatures needed. Sigh.

    1. Wow, if rain kept the people from gathering signatures, then this country has no hope!

      1. I suspect this was probably a half-hearted effort anyway, possibly poorly organized. There have been so MANY recall attempts on this clown, all foiled for one reason or another. And, in their defense, collecting 21K valid signatures isn’t as easy as it looks, which I’m sure they quickly discovered. Sorta puts the 2 MILLION+ signatures for the Gov Recall in a new light, doesn’t it? Even though that was a statewide effort. But just think about it for a minute or two —– that’s A LOT, isn’t it! And quite an achievement. Too bad the election rigging wiped away what could have been and deprived Californians of a better future.

  2. ” as did a revival of support from the Latino community.”

    That’s disgraceful. How do you support such a low life racist, unless you are a racist yourself?

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