California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) called for two Los Angeles City Council members to resign Sunday amid an ongoing scandal surrounding racist comments made at a closed-door meeting last year.
Newsom said councilmembers Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo should leave their positions as fury continues after the pair were among a group secretly recorded last year. Then-Council President Nury Martinez made several racist remarks at the meeting, attended by de León, Cedillo and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera, including calling the Black son of another council member “parece changuito,” or “is like a monkey.”
At one point, de León joined in on the joke, appearing to compare the colleague, Mike Bonin’s, handling of his son to Martinez’s carrying of a “Louis Vuitton bag.”
Martinez, who has repeatedly apologized for the remarks, resigned from the council earlier this month, a decision Newsom said was the “right move.” But when asked Sunday if the two other members should do the same, he said he believed they should.
“I think they should,” the governor told reporters after Sunday’s election debate in San Francisco, per the Los Angeles Times. “I was very clear with Nury that she did the right thing, and I think the others should do the same. 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.”
The meeting, held in October 2021, centered around the city’s redistricting process and how Latino political leaders could cement their political power.
“No, I will not resign because there is a lot of work ahead,” de León said last week. Cedillo lost his primary reelection bid in June before the scandal broke, but has also resisted such calls. He issued an apology and said he should have intervened during the closed-door meeting but maintained he didn’t “engage” with the remarks or add to them.
De León and Cedillo have both been removed from their committee assignments.
Shortly after the recording was released, Newsom said, “words matter,” adding, “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,” the governor said earlier this month.