Updated Oct 19, 2022 - Politics & Policy

L.A. City Council's Kevin de León says he won't resign

Kevin de Leon during a 2018 event in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for STARZ

Los Angeles Councilmember Kevin de León will not resign despite the fallout of leaked audio in which he and two other councilmembers made racist remarks, he told Univision in an interview broadcast Wednesday night.

The big picture: De León and councilmember Gil Cedillo have resisted calls to step down from President Biden and others for participating in a discussion with anti-Black and anti-Indigenous comments, particularly after former council president Nury Martinez resigned last week.

  • De León and Cedillo have both apologized and were removed from their committee chairmanships and assignments last week.

What he's saying: "I'm so sorry," De León said in an interview with Noticiero Univision anchor León Krauze, per the transcript obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

  • "I am extremely sorry, and that is why I apologize to all my people, to my entire community, for the damage caused by the painful words that were carried out that day last year," he continued.
  • "No, I will not resign, because there is a lot of work ahead," he said. "There’s a lot of work in trying to handle the crises that are taking place in the district: the [COVID-19] infections, unemployment, the threat of evictions and the humanitarian crisis of homelessness."

Thought bubble via Axios' Russell Contreras: De León's downfall is the latest in a string of Southern California Latino elected officials once touted as a potential national leader.

  • De León's helped lead 1994 protests in Los Angeles against a ballot measure to cut off government services to immigrants in the country illegally and later became the first Latino to lead the California Senate since 1883.

What we're watching: His refusal to step down is likely to flame tensions between the city's Black and Latino residents.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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