LA Councilmen De León, Cedillo resist resigning amid uproar over leaked audio of racist remarks

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Friday, October 14, 2022
LA councilmen resist resigning amid uproar over racist remarks
Two L.A. City Councilmembers held out Thursday against overwhelming calls to resign for their involvement in a conversation that included a series of racist remarks.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Two Los Angeles City Councilmembers held out Thursday against overwhelming calls to resign for their involvement in a conversation that included a series of racist remarks.

Following Nury Martinez's resignation from the City Council, Acting Council President Mitch O'Farrell said Thursday the "people's business cannot be conducted" until Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo resign their council seats. O'Farrell canceled Friday's council meeting.

O'Farrell said at a news conference he is frustrated and surprised that Cedillo and De León have not yet resigned.

"The only sense I have is what they're going through personally, probably weighing their long history in politics and public service, and reconciling this transgression with that," O'Farrell said. "That's all I can imagine that they're going through, but one thing is clear: they need to put all that past them and resign right now."

O'Farrell said he had spoken to Cedillo, and "I sense that he is making some progress toward that decision." O'Farrell said he and others haven't been able to reach De León.

De León and Cedillo were included in a recorded October 2021 conversation in which racist statements were made as four officials discussed the city's redistricting process. Martinez, the former council president, and Ron Herrera, who was president of the L.A. County Federation of Labor, have both already resigned following the release of the recording.

In the recording, Martinez compared another colleague's Black son to a monkey, belittled Mexicans from the state of Oaxaca and made crass comments about Armenians and Jews.

The audio leak of the racist conversation Sunday brought days of protest both inside and outside City Hall. Wednesday's meeting had to be adjourned early.

"The council is not those councilmembers, and I think that people need to understand that the inexcusable conduct of those three councilmembers is not reflective of what the City Council as an institution is all about," Councilman Paul Krekorian said.

For now, the only thing the remaining councilmembers can do is strip De León and Cedillo of their committee assignments.

Since Martinez resigned Wednesday, O'Farrell was able to appoint the city's Chief Legislative Analyst as a non-voting caretaker of the Sixth District. This would allow the existing staff to continue working to give city services to the community.

In a statement, O'Farrell also said he will begin exploring holding a special election to fill Martinez's seat. Martinez's term was set to expire at the end of 2024.

"The one thing the charter does not allow, is for us to force them to resign or to remove them from the office," O'Farrell explained at the news conference. "Only a recall election can accomplish that."

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday.

City News Service and the Associated Press contributed to this report.