Recall effort against L.A. Councilman Kevin de León is cleared to gather signatures

Councilmember Kevin de León sits on the council dais
Councilmember Kevin de León, right, sits in Los Angeles City Council chambers Oct. 11, the last council meeting he has attended in the wake of a leaked audio recording of a 2021 conversation that involved racist comments and attempts to manipulate the redistricting process.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

A recall petition against City Councilmember Kevin de León was approved by the Los Angeles city clerk Tuesday, allowing organizers to begin collecting signatures.

To qualify for the ballot, organizers must collect 20,437 signatures from registered voters of the 14th Council District by March 31, according to the city clerk’s office.

Notice of intent to recall De León was filed in October by five residents of the 14th District, including Pauline Adkins, who led two prior unsuccessful recall attempts of De León.


De León, along with Councilmember Gil Cedillo, has defied fierce and widespread calls to resign for taking part in a recorded 2021 conversation that involved racist comments and attempts to manipulate the redistricting process.

A bombshell recording has thrown L.A. politics into chaos. What was really being discussed? L.A. Times reporters and columnists pick it apart, line by line.

Nov. 21, 2022

Under the statement of reasons in the notice of intent, the organizers cited De León’s refusal to resign over the scandal.

“Even though the City Council has called for his resignation, and have stripped him of his committee assignments, Kevin de León has refused to resign,” the statement reads. “He currently cannot represent the stakeholders of Council District 14.”

Pete Brown, De León’s communications director, said in a statement in October that the recall effort distorts De León’s record and “will not distract the council member or his office from continuing to serve the people of Council District 14. He will keep moving forward important projects and issues that threaten the communities and the lives of his constituents.”

Cedillo cannot be recalled because there is not enough time before his term expires next week. He lost his reelection bid in the June primary.

Two police officers stand next to a seated woman holding a mirror above her head
At Tuesday’s L.A. City Council meeting, police remove a mirror-wielding protester who was among a group demanding that no council meetings be held until Councilmember Kevin De León resigns.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

De León’s term runs until December 2024. He has not attended a council meeting since Oct. 11.

Adkins, in an interview with City News Service in October, claimed the amount of support she is receiving for her third recall bid is “night and day” compared with her previous two attempts given the uproar over the racism scandal. Adkins said she is “one thousand percent confident” that she will be able to gather the signatures.

“That’s the vibe we’re getting is that there’s going to be a lot of constituents,” Adkins said. “They’re very, very upset. I’m just overwhelmed by the participation of CD 14 in these early stages of the recall.”

Audio of Councilmembers Nury Martinez, Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo speaking with labor leader Ron Herrera quickly became a new and incendiary issue in the Nov. 8 election.

May 8, 2023

Joshua Spivak, a recall expert and senior research fellow at UC Berkeley Law School’s California Constitution Center, told City News Service previously that “the number one, and really the only thing, is getting those signatures.”

“That’s the key. If you get enough signatures, if you get to the ballot, there’s a very good chance of success,” Spivak said.