Effort to recall Kevin de León fails, not enough signatures were collected

Courtesy of Pauline Adkins

Six months ago, it was revealed that Councilmember Kevin de León was part of a leaked audio conversation with other LA city council members which included racist remarks. Recently, an effort to recall De León led by Pauline Adkins, an Eagle Rock resident, has failed.

Adkins had filed a notice of intent to recall De León in October and was given until March 31 to collect the 21,006 signatures from registered voters that are necessary to prove there is enough public investment to initiate a recall election in Council District (CD) 14; CD 14 is the district De León represents which includes neighborhoods such as Eagle Rock and Highland Park. Adkins said she had a group of volunteers helping her collect signatures both in person and via email campaigns but that the recent rains hindered their local tabling efforts.

Courtesy of Pauline Adkins

“The weather was a frightening reminder that we just didn’t have enough time,” Adkins said. “The people were more than willing to sign.”

Adkins has attempted to have De León recalled on three prior occasions. She said her main reason for the attempt at the recall in 2021 was De León’s support for the plan to build tiny-home villages in CD 14. According to the LA Times, she often spread pro-Donald Trump messages on her Facebook, and that made her an unlikely partner for the largely far-left activists who have critiqued De León loudly.

Richard Loew, the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council (ERNC) president, said the community was initially excited after De León was elected. However, the ERNC called for De León’s resignation after the leaked conversation between the council members came to light.

“It was just not acceptable to anybody on the council that we’d be represented by somebody who would espouse those views or stay silent when those views are espoused to him,” Loew said. “But we don’t have a system that allows us to easily take him out of office, so all we could do was call for his resignation. In the end, if he doesn’t want to resign, there’s no way to force him to resign.”

Teresa Hendrickson, the former editor of the Boulevard Sentinel, which reported on Northeast LA for 26 years, said there was a significant shift in how De León was regarded after the release of the tape.

“He was clearly the first choice of the voters in CD 14 and was seen as a rising star in California politics,” Hendrickson said. “To go from that to having the community leaders in terms of the neighborhood councils say that you should resign is obviously a big swing.”

Joshua Spivak writes The Recall Elections Blog and is a Senior Fellow at the Hugh L. Carey Institute at Wagner College. According to Spivak, the key to a recall election is having enough signatures from registered voters in order to hold a new election where the official can be removed.

“California is one of the states that is active in recall, and it’s the only state that has had two governors face a recall election,” Spivak said.

Spivak said that the majority of the time a recall effort fails because enough signatures cannot be collected.

“When a recall gets enough signatures, there’s a very good chance that it will be successful,” Spivak said.

Spivak said a big issue was that Adkins organized this recall effort, and she had previously and repeatedly tried to remove De León and failed.

Courtesy of Pauline Adkins

“It didn’t have that feeling that this is a serious effort,” Spivak said. “He [De León] is also a longtime official who has held senior-level posts. There is a good number of voters who approve of him in general.”

According to Loew, the ERNC cannot get involved in any measures such as the recall attempt. However, Loew said that it was his personal opinion that the recall attempt was ridiculous because the reasoning behind it was once again concerned with tiny homes.

“Redoing the same recall petition by the same people who didn’t have any credibility really worked in De León’s favor because nobody was going to go out of their way to support these people who had been kind of on the fringe to begin with,” Loew said.

Contact Ava LaLonde at lalonde@oxy.edu


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