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Los Angeles Councilman Kevin de León refuses to resign amid City Hall uproar; ‘still a lot of work to be done’

A Los Angeles city councilman said he will not resign amid calls by a long list of California leaders for him and a colleague to step down after a leaked audio recording caught him and other Latino officials making racist remarks and berating their colleagues and constituents. 

Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo have so far resisted calls to step down, even after former Council President Nury Martinez resigned last week. In an interview with Univision, de León said he intends to keep his council seat. 

“I won’t resign because there is still a lot of work to be done,” he said in a Spanish-language interview that aired Wednesday. “The crisis taking place in the district, the infections, unemployment, the threat of eviction, the homeless humanitarian crisis.”

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Cedillo lost his re-election bid earlier this year and will end his term in December. De León’s remarks were the first since President Biden called for him to resign. 

Most of the City Council has called for both men to step down amid an uproar that has engulfed City Hall and local politics. Protesters have even gathered daily in front of his home demanding his resignation.

Martinez resigned as council president last week and then stepped down altogether a few days later. The uproar came after a recording of a 2021 closed-door meeting between de León, Cedillo, Martinez and Ron Herrera, a powerful labor leader, was made public earlier this month. 

They were heard bashing their colleagues and making racist statements during a discussion of how to carve up council districts, which has itself come under heavy scrutiny.

Martinez was caught calling the Black son of Councilman Mike Bonin racist names and demeaning Mexicans from the Oaxaca state, Armenians, Jews, her White colleagues and people in other communities. 

On Tuesday, protesters tried to force themselves into City Hall to shut down the council meeting, which was being held virtually. 

In the Univision interview, de León apologized for his remarks. 

“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.”

This week, the city council installed Paul Krekorian as president following the departure of Martinez.

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