California Governor Gavin Newsom said Sunday that LA City Council members Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo should follow Nury Martinez in resigning from office, two weeks after an audio recording of the three participants leaked. has a racist conversation behind closed doors about council colleagues and the city’s political redistribution process was made public.
Newsom first said it was “the right gesture” when Martinez resigned from the board on October 12, after having already resigned as chairman of the board. But until Sunday, the governor had not publicly commented on whether the two remaining members should follow suit.
“I think they should,” Newsom told reporters after taking part in a KQED election debate against Republican opponent Brian Dahle in San Francisco. Newsom said he wanted to give the members “space” to make the decision to step down.
“I was very clear with Nury that she did the right thing, and I think others should do the same,” he said. “I wanted to give them the opportunity to justify … what they said and the opportunity to be transparent about what they said. We therefore hope and look forward [resignation] announcements soon.
The calls for the resignation stem from a leaked conversation in October 2021 on the city redistricting process among the three members and the president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Ron Herrera. The group was discussing ways to maintain Latin American political power by redrawing new city maps.
During their conversation, Martinez used openly racist terms to describe the young black son of fellow white board member Mike Bonin, referring to the child as “looks like changuito,” or “like a monkey”. She also said Bonin’s son misbehaved in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade float and needed a “hit.” Martinez repeatedly apologized for the comments.
At one point in the conversation, De León seemed to compare the way Bonin looked after his son to “when Nury brings him a Goyard bag or the Louis Vuitton bag”.
Political leaders in the state and nation have called for the resignation of all four people involved in the conversation, including President Biden. Atti. General Rob Bonta also launched a investigation of the city redistricting process which took place last fall, saying an investigation was needed to “restore trust” in the way the maps were drawn.
While Martinez and Herrera quickly resigned from office, Cedillo and De León have so far resisted calls from fellow politicians and the public to leave office. They were both removed from their positions on the committee.
Cedillo lost his re-election bid in the June primaries and will soon be replaced on the board by activist Eunisses Hernandez. But De León said last week he had no plans to retire. He apologized for participating in the conversation, but said his constituents deserved to be represented and there were serious issues in his downtown and Eastside neighborhood that he wanted to help solve.
“No, I will not quit, because there is a lot of work to do,” De León said in an interview with Noticiero Univision.
In his October 10 initial statement on the recording, Newsom said that “words matter, and racist language can hurt.”
“These comments have no place in our state or in our politics, and we all need to behave better to live up to the values that so many of us fight every day to protect.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.