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Recall offer launched against Kevin de León

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Amid widespread calls for the embattled politician to step down, five voters on Thursday filed initial documents recalling Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de León.

The former head of the state Senate has been at the center of a political maelstrom sparked by a leaked recording first reported by The Times on October 9.

De León has repeatedly said he has no plans to quit, citing the need for representation in his downtown and Eastside neighborhood. He was elected to the board in 2020 and has more than two years left in his term.

“After three failed attempts, another recall that misrepresents his record will not deter the council member or his office from continuing to serve the residents of Council District 14,” De León spokesman Pete Brown said in the statement. a statement. “He will continue to push forward important projects and issues that threaten communities and the lives of his constituents.”

Eagle Rock resident Pauline Adkins, a representative of the recall group, launched two recall attempts for De León before the leaked scandal, with initial documents filed in July 2021 and May 2022.

When reached by telephone, Adkins declined to be interviewed. The City Clerk’s Office confirmed that the group had filed the documents.

It’s relatively easy to launch a recall attempt in California, but to call an election is much harder. Most recall attempts fail on ballot.

According to city rules, recall supporters must begin the process by submitting a 300-word statement signed by five voters in the district. Several other procedural steps must be completed within a certain time before the collection of signatures can begin.

Documents filed Thursday cite De León’s participation in the leaked conversation and subsequent calls for his resignation as the reason for the recall, saying “he cannot currently represent the council’s District 14 stakeholders.”

Triggering a recall election for a Los Angeles council member requires the signatures of 15% of the total number of registered voters in the district, which means supporters would need to collect 21,006 valid signatures in District 14, according to the city clerk’s office.

Petition campaigns typically need to have a “cushion” of at least 20% to account for rejected signatures, which means recall organizers would likely have to turn in just over 25,000 signatures, said advocacy expert Joshua Spivak. recall elections and principal researcher. at the California Constitution Center at UC Berkeley Law School.

Such an effort would almost certainly require some degree of paid signature collection to succeed in the necessary time frame.

Brian VanRiper, a political consultant who has worked on a number of Los Angeles City Council races, echoed the logistical difficulties inherent in successfully running a recall.

The De León neighborhood, which includes downtown LA, is also difficult to collect signatures due to the nature of the neighborhood – there are many apartment buildings and signature gatherings cannot easily hit the streets. gates, VanRiper said.

Incendiary recording from October 2021 captured a closed-door conversation between then-city council president Nury Martinez, De León and council member Gil Cedillo, and Ron Herrera, the head of the Federation of Labor of Los Angeles County. Local eminences were apparently meeting to discuss proposed redistricting maps of the city’s 15 council districts, but the conversation included racist and derogatory remarks about blacks, Jews, Armenians, Indigenous peoples and gay people.

At one point, Martinez – who has since resigned from the council – said Councilor Mike Bonin, who is white, treated his young black son as if he were a “prop” and described the boy as “Parece changuitoor “like a monkey”. Herrera also resigned from his influential position.

De León appeared to compare Bonin’s handling of her child to Martinez holding a Louis Vuitton handbag.

De León repeatedly apologized for attending the meeting, describing the handbag comment as a joke directed at Martinez’s “penchant for luxury accessories” and saying he should have intervened at various other moments of the conversation to put an end to the racist remarks. .

Recent efforts to recall Board members Mike Bonin and Nithya Raman, Dist. Atti. George Gascón and Mayor Eric Garcetti all failed because recall leaders failed to collect enough signatures to take the issue to voters.

However, recalls that make it the ballot often succeed, Spivak said.

Spivak cited recent history in San Francisco, where voters successfully recalled three school board members and Dist. Atti. Chesa Boudin earlier this year. Polls on Gascón’s recall campaign also showed the effort would have had a good chance of succeeding had it passed.

“He’s exactly the type of recall that would have a good chance of getting a vote,” Spivak said of a potential De León recall. But he also warned that De León’s prominence as a politician could help him thwart a recall campaign.

Despite the public outcry, De León seems to have a well of support in his district. At recent city council meetings, a number of residents of the district who identified themselves called to express their support for him, saying he should remain in office.

Protests over the continued presence of Cedillo and De León have made it difficult for the board to continue in recent weeks. The rest of the board lacks the power to remove De León and Cedillo, whose terms end in December. Neither De León nor Cedillo have attended meetings for the past two weeks.

If other recall supporters in the district join forces with Adkins, the campaign could make unlikely bedfellows. Many of De León’s loudest criticisms have come from activists on the city’s most left-wing flank, while Adkins has frequently reposted political posts made by accounts including Trump 2020, the Donald Trump Fan Club and Silent Majority Chooses Greatness Trump 2024 on his Facebook page, according to previous reports from The Times.

Times writer David Zahniser contributed to this report.

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