Kevin de Leon

Rafu Wire and Staff Reports

Los Angeles City Councilmember Kevin de Leon on Tuesday announced his candidacy for mayor in 2022.

“I am running for mayor of Los Angeles because I believe it is time to chart a new course for Los Angeles,” he said in a statement.

“I’m running for every worker who was called essential — but treated like they were expendable.

“I’m running for the neighborhoods that were crushed by COVID-19, while others were spared.

“I’m running for everyone who is caught up in the worst humanitarian crisis in America today — our homelessness pandemic.

“I’m running for YOU. And I can’t win unless we build this movement together. Will you join me?

De Leon represents Council District 14, which includes Little Tokyo, Boyle Heights, Downtown, Eagle Rock, Glassell Park, Highland Park and El Sereno. He supported efforts to prevent residents of Sakura (formerly Keiro) Intermediate Care Facility in Boyle Heights from being evicted by the owner, Pacifica Companies.

In a campaign announcement video, he said, “Every single neighborhood deserves safe streets, clean sidewalks and clean air, and everyone in our city who works hard should have the opportunity to get ahead … To me, turning big ideas into bold action is what leadership is all about. That’s the only way to confront the challenges we face right now, because going backwards is not in our DNA.”

Other candidates so far include City Councilmember Joe Buscaino, City Attorney Mike Feuer, Central City Association of Los Angeles President and CEO Jessica Lall, and businessman Mel Wilson. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) is also expected to enter the race. The primary will be held in June and the top two finishers will face off in November.

Mayor Eric Garcetti is termed out from running again in 2022, and is expected to leave office early pending the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of his appointment as ambassador to India.

De Leon assumed office in October 2020 after a special election for the seat vacated by Jose Huizar, who was charged in a federal investigation into bribery and corruption. During a public forum held in Little Tokyo, de Leon was the only one, out of five candidates, who did not commit to serving a full term if elected.

De Leon, a Democrat, served in the State Senate, where he was president pro tempore, from 2010 to 2018 and in the State Assembly from 2006 to 2010.

One of de Leon’s early moves on the City Council was a series of motions as part of his “A Way Home” initiative to have the city develop a plan to create 25,000 new homeless housing units by 2025.

“The people of Los Angeles are hurting in ways that I understand on a deeply personal level,” he said in his campaign statement. “I know what housing insecurity feels like. Growing up in crowded basement apartments, sharing houses with strangers, and sleeping in my car — I understand what it means to live on the margins, wondering whether we would eat or keep the lights on from one month to the next.”

De Leon became the third council member to be targeted by a recall petition this year, with constituents upset with “tiny home villages” in their neighborhoods. The petition needs 20,563 signatures of qualified registered voters in Council District 14 by Dec. 14 to get on the ballot.

The villages are meant to serve as interim housing amid a historic homelessness and affordable housing crisis in Los Angeles. Crews broke ground on June 29 on a 224-bed tiny home village in Highland Park, which is expected to be the largest in California.

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