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LA Council member Kevin de León, a year after racist audio scandal, says he'll run again

David Zahniser, Julia Wick and Dakota Smith, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles City Council member Kevin de León, whose political career was upended following the leak of a recorded conversation featuring racist and derogatory remarks, said Wednesday he will seek another four-year term in the city’s March election.

De León, whose district takes in all or portions of downtown, Boyle Heights, El Sereno and Eagle Rock, said in an emailed campaign announcement that he had made “unprecedented strides” in the district on public safety and homelessness. Residents of the 14th District “deserve this high level of dedicated public service,” he said.

De León had been widely expected to launch a reelection bid, a move that will almost certainly return the leak scandal to the center of the city’s political debates. In an interview with Politico, which first reported his decision to run, he acknowledged that friends and allies had “turned away” from him after he was heard in the recording with a labor leader and two other council members. He insisted, however, that his constituents continued to have his back.

“I understood in a deeper way the relationship that I had with my community,” de León said.

The primary election will be held in March. If no one receives a majority of the vote, the top two vote-getters will face off in November.

Nearly a dozen other people have already expressed interest in running for the seat, including two Eastside-based state lawmakers — Assemblymembers Wendy Carrillo and Miguel Santiago — and Ysabel Jurado, a tenant advocate who worked in the administration of former Mayor Eric Garcetti.


Jurado, in a statement, called de León one in a string of politicians who have embarrassed the district. She pushed back on the notion that constituents are receiving a high level of services.

“His behavior on that tape was enough to justify a resignation,” she said. “But he sold us out long before that. Our sidewalks are cracked. Luxury real estate developers get his green light. Homelessness is worse than ever.”

De León, onetime leader of the state Senate, won his election in 2020 for an Eastside seat held by City Council member Jose Huizar, who was the target of a sweeping corruption scandal and is now awaiting sentencing on racketeering and tax evasion charges. At that time, he had significant support from neighborhood, labor and political leaders.

De León was not nearly as successful in his bid for mayor last year, finishing third in the June 2022 primary with just under 8% of the vote.


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