LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Embattled Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de León says he has no intention of resigning, despite calls to step down by protesters, his fellow councilmembers and even President Biden.
De León is embroiled in a City Hall scandal in which he and two other councilmembers were recorded in a conversation making racist remarks and discussing how to game the city’s redistricting process.
Since the recordings were leaked, former Council President Nury Martinez resigned her seat. De León and Councilman Gil Cedillo have faced increasingly loud calls to resign.
De León – who had been publicly quiet after the controversy erupted – told Univision on Wednesday he intends to keep his seat.
“I won’t resign because there is still a lot of work to be done,” he said in a Spanish-language interview. “The crisis taking place in the district, the infections, unemployment, the threat of eviction, the homeless humanitarian crisis.”
Cedillo lost his election this summer and his term will end in December if he doesn’t resign before then. De León still has two more years left in his term.
Most of the other councilmembers have also publicly said de León and Cedillo should resign, saying the city cannot heal until that happens.
The City Council does not have the legal power to remove a member from office, absent serious criminal allegations. The only way to force de León from office, other than public pressure, is to launch a recall effort.
Last week, President Joe Biden weighed in on the controversy. A White House spokesperson said the president believes all of the councilmembers involved in the recorded conversation should step down.
“He believes that they all should resign,” Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at a White House briefing.
Protesters with Black Lives Matter have been camped out near de León’s Eagle Rock home and say they won’t leave until he’s gone. They have been angered by discussions in the recorded conversations about redistricting in which it appears the councilmembers were looking at ways to reduce representation of the city’s Black community.
Another group of protesters tried to force their way into City Hall on Tuesday, apparently trying to shut down the City Council meeting, even though it was being held virtually. Some were heard chanting: “No resignations, no meeting.”
De León did apologize to the public in the Univision interview.
“I feel really bad, I feel very sorry for the damage, for the wounds that exist today in our communities,” he said. “I’m so sorry. I am sorry and that’s why I apologize to all my people, to my entire community, for the damage caused by the painful words that were said last year.”
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