Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday officially called for the resignation of Los Angeles City Council members Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo following the leaked audio published earlier this month, where both members participated in a closed-door redistricting meeting where racist comments were made.
Following the 2022 California gubernatorial debate between Newsom and his republican challenger state Senator Brian Dahle tonight, Newsom told a press pool the two L.A. city officials should follow former City Council President Nury Martinez, who resigned from the council on Oct. 12.
“I was very clear with Nury that she did the right thing, and I think the others should do the same,” Newsom told reporters, according to the Los Angeles Times. “I wanted to provide the opportunity for them to justify … what they said and the opportunity to be transparent about what they said. So we’re hoping and looking forward to [resignation] announcements soon.”
Heard in the audio recordings with Martinez, Cedillo, and de León was Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera, who resigned from his position last week shortly after Martinez.
During the closed-door recorded conversation, L.A. officials met to discuss how the city would redraw council district boundaries over the next ten years — geared toward helping Latino political leaders maintain their power, re-elect Latino members, and protect economic interests.
However, the leaked audio recordings, first published by anonymous Reddit users and later reported by The Los Angeles Times, exposed Martinez’s racist statements about a fellow council member Mike Bonin, a gay white man, and his adopted black son, Oaxacan immigrants living in the Koreatown neighborhood of Los Angeles and offensive comments regarding Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón’s association with the black community.
Councilmember de León made offensive comments in the recording about Bonin.
Councilmember de León said Wednesday in a television interview on Noticiero Univision that he “will not resign” from his position amid a public and political backlash from local, state, and federal officials. Cedillo has also rejected the idea. Both members have been removed from thier committees.
Newsom, agreeing that Martinez made the right choice by stepping down, has said he hopes and looks forward to de León and Cedillo announcing their resignations soon.
“I wanted to give them space, but I think I was very clear with Nury, that she did the right thing. And I think the others should do the same,” Newsom said. “I wanted to provide the opportunity for them to justify what they said, and the opportunity to be transparent about what they said. And so we’re hoping and looking forward to announcements soon.”
When the recordings leaked, Newsom initially said in a tweet that “words matter, and racist language can do real harm.”
“These comments have no place in our state, or in our politics, and we must all model better behavior to live the values that so many of us fight every day to protect,” he said.
Words matter, and racist language can do real harm.
These comments have no place in our state, or in our politics, and we must all model better behavior to live the values that so many of us fight every day to protect. pic.twitter.com/s8obxz8ae4
— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) October 10, 2022