Councilmember Kevin De Leòn, Central Figure in Notorious Racist Scandal, Takes Lead in City Council Race

Elgin Nelson

City Councilman Kevin de León, seeking redemption from the fallout of the infamous City Hall racism scandal, has taken an early lead in the primary for the City Council seat in District 14. Early results indicate that incumbent De León is likely to face competition from either Miguel Santiago, Ysabel Jurado, or Wendy Carillo. 

With just 26% of vote, De León bid for reelection will get increasingly tough come November’s general election, as his competition is not far behind with Miguel Santiago garnering 21% of the vote, and Ysabel Jurado collecting 20% of the vote.

Currently vying for a second four-year term on the City Council, De León has been on a public journey seeking forgiveness from constituents following the 2022 racist recording scandal. The controversial recording exposed him comparing his then-colleague Councilmember Mike Bonin’s adopted Black son to a luxury handbag, leading to calls for his resignation from protesters and even President Biden.

In a statement after the tapes were released, de León said: “There were comments made in the context of this meeting that are wholly inappropriate, and I regret appearing to condone and even contribute to certain insensitive comments made about a colleague and his family in private. I fell short of the expectations we set for our leaders, and I will hold myself to a higher standard.”

De León continued with the same rhetoric in his latest campaign saying, “I’m sorry for what I did and didn’t do.” 

Despite resistance to calls for stepping down, De León has chosen to run for reelection, citing his love for the job and emphasizing his track record. 

The district at the center of the race, District 14, encompasses Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, Downtown L.A., El Sereno, and Northeast L.A. Throughout his first term, De León has focused on efforts to house unhoused constituents, resist gentrification, and address street encampments.

The racist conversation, captured in leaked audio recordings, involved De León strategizing with fellow councilmembers and a labor leader on diluting Black voting power in the city.

De León continues to express regret for appearing to condone inappropriate comments about a colleague and his family. In his latest campaign, he continues to apologize for his past actions while underscoring his achievements and urging voters to give him the opportunity to continue serving.

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