Things That Matter

A Look at the Only Latino Running for Mayor of Los Angeles: Kevin de León

Grupo Firme welcomed LA mayoral candidate Kevin de León to the stage during one of their performances at SoFi Stadium in May. While up there, de León presented the group with an award in front of 70,000 audience members while also receiving a stamp of approval from Eduin Caz and the band.

In the 2022 mayoral race, talks of the importance of political representation are being pushed aside for more visceral pain points affecting Angelinos. Kevin de León’s campaign is not showing any signs of timidity, however.

With almost ten months of campaign runway behind him, mitú got on the phone with the only Latino running for mayor of Los Angeles to measure his spirit.

“We just have to keep pushing really hard and get to the top two,” said de León. His campaign has ads running in both English and Spanish television networks with the goal of coalescing the Latino vote. According to de León, a lot remains at stake. The city councilman is no stranger to Latino voter trends in past elections. In the last presidential election, Latinos decided their vote roughly around the last two weeks. The same trend followed during the 2021 gubernatorial recall. 

Our conversation took place the day after 19 innocent children lost their lives to gun violence in Uvalde, Texas. And he made a case for voting when it feels pointless, sharing, “I think the electorate should be outraged and demand the changes that are desperately needed to protect and defend our community members. It’s critical that Latinos have their voices heard.”

He linked this tragic occurrence to the much more frequent gun violence happening in underserved Latino neighborhoods in L.A. Gun violence continues to be the second leading cause of death for Hispanic/Latino males under the age of 34. A report from the LA Times revealed that shootings in Los Angeles increased nearly 40% in 2021. It’s these stark numbers that have led this candidate to take on the NRA on multiple occasions throughout his time as a public servant. 

The councilman has represented the 45th district in the California state assembly, the 22nd state senate district and later the 24th district. At only 55-years-old, he’s also served as president pro tempore of the California state senate.

De León’s motivation to run for mayor grew over the course of the past two years. He already knew inequalities existed, but the coronavirus exposed the depth of the problem for him. Simply put, the pandemic took the lives of more poor people than it did rich ones. 

This disparity, among many others in L.A., existed long before he entered public office. The overwhelming nature of these injustices has never stopped him from seeking action, though.

Among de León’s many accomplishments is making California the first and largest state in the nation to be a sanctuary state. He’s also made California the largest economy in the world to legally commit itself to 100% clear renewable energy. He’s housed 85% of unhoused people in Northeast Los Angeles. In less than a year, he built the largest tiny home village in the U.S. 

The candidate did not shy away from his exhaustion, but framed it as a source of his motivation. “I’m tired of people like my mother being left behind,” he says.

De León was raised by a single immigrant mother with a third-grade education who supported him and his siblings as a housecleaner. This, in many ways, is the experience reflected by the most vulnerable citizens of Los Angeles in 2022. “They serve our food, they clean our streets, they take care of our children, our elderly. These are the people who I’m fighting for.”

De León’s ability to act on the issues is what he believes sets him apart from his opponents. Angelinos will get the chance to vote for their candidate on June 7.

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