Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de León said that he won’t resign from the Los Angeles City Council amid the furor over a leaked audio of a conversation with two colleagues and a top labor official.
Speaking to CBS Los Angeles’ Tom Wait, de León said that he instead will work to repair relationships in the community and with his council colleagues.
“I have to do the hard work,” de León said. “I have to regain the trust of my colleagues. It won’t be easy.”
Of the recording, in which then-City Council President Nury Martinez made a racist remark about Councilman Mike Bonin’s Black son and disparaging comments about other ethic groups, de León said that he “failed in that moment in time in not stepping up and shutting the meeting down.”
Embattled L.A. City Council Members Cedillo And De León Removed From Committee Assignments As Pressure Grows On Duo To Resign After Racist Recording
Martinez resigned the council presidency last week and later her council seat. Another participant in the conversation, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera, also stepped down. It’s still not known who recorded the conversation, which took place last year and the labor federation headquarters. The Los Angeles Times published its contents early last week, triggering a crisis among city leadership.
But de León and another participant in the conversation, Councilman Gil Cedillo, so far have resisted calls to step aside from a chorus of colleagues and top Democrats, including President Joe Biden. Cedillo will soon be departing the council anyway at the end of the year after he failed to win another term.
During the conversation, Martinez used the Spanish term for “monkey” to refer to Bonin’s son, while de León appeared to agree with her comment that the child was used like a fashion accessory.
“This will not be easy,” de León said. “I will always be sorry for not stepping in, for not stopping the meeting.” He said that he does recalled talking to Cedillo as they left the meeting and telling him that he was “shocked by the words that came out of Martinez.”
De León also gave an interview to Univision’s León Krauze in which he said that he would not resign.
“I have to do the hard work. I have to repair. I have to help heal. I have to help restore,” de León said.
Earlier this week, de León and Cedillo were stripped of their committee assignments.
De León said that he apologized to Bonin and his family, and has had conversations with community leaders.
On Tuesday, the council elected Paul Krekorian as council president succeeding Martinez.
De León had been a prominent statewide figure before being elected to the City Council in 2020. He previously was president pro tem of the California State Senate, and ran for U.S. Senate against Dianne Feinstein in 2018. He also ran for mayor of Los Angeles this year, but failed to make the runoff. Mayoral hopefuls Karen Bass and Rick Caruso have each called on de León to step down.
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