For more than a decade, Kevin de León has been dedicated to public service.
An activist, community organizer and educator, he was elected as the California State senator for the 24th District in 2010. In 2014, he was elected as the first Latino president pro tempore to the California State Senate in more than 130 years. After winning the election on March 3 with 53% of the vote, he was officially sworn in early on October 15 as the Los Angeles city councilman representing the 14th District, which covers Boyle Heights, DTLA, El Sereno and Northeast LA.
“I’ve had the pleasure of representing all of (District) 14 for the past 12 years, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to step up and be a voice for others,” de León said. “There are a disproportionate number of profound issues that directly impact (District) 14. We have to do better, and we will do better.”
Following the swearing-in ceremony, which was conducted by Judge Lucy Armendariz, de León delivered a virtual address focused on the urgency of responding to various challenges facing his district.
“My promise to you is this: Starting on day one, my sole focus is to be a voice for the voiceless,” stated de León in his virtual address. “To be the fighter, you need to improve the human condition of all individuals—regardless of you are and where you come from. Regardless of who you love, regardless of the color of your skin, which God you pray to, and yes—your legal status. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for giving me the opportunity to work for each and every one of you, and I cannot wait to see what we will accomplish together.”
De León said he has started work with the city’s planning department to trim away more than 800 pages of convoluted and unnecessary code that was written decades ago. One of the big issues he plans to focus on is the growing homeless problem.
“When it comes to homelessness and housing affordability, what we are seeing in Los Angeles today is a modern-day human catastrophe,” de León said. “A dystopian nightmare unlike anything we’ve seen before. It’s shocking. It’s shameful. We have a moral and human obligation to do better, to improve our collective quality of life—ensuring that everyone can afford to keep a roof over their head.”
At his first council meeting on October 20, de León introduced two motions instructing the city to partner with the county on the construction of more than 200 beds for unhoused Angelenos throughout the 14th District. He will also instruct city departments to begin work on hundreds of transitional housing units across District 14.
“Starting on day one, we are pushing for the construction of more than 200 new beds and prioritizing nine sites throughout CD 14 for potential new interim housing projects,” de León said. “Responding to the needs of our unhoused neighbors through this public health crisis must be among our top priorities as a district and as a city.”
The second motion aims to address the need for additional locations to construct housing for the homeless, directing the city departments to determine the feasibility of new projects at nine sites within CD 14. Other issues that de León plans to tackle include poor air quality, as well as the economic and public health fallout that has occurred due to COVID-19.
“We have some of the worst air quality in America, particularly in City 14, which has nine major freeways that cause major air pollution,” he said. “Tourism has been decimated, unemployment is horrific, restaurants have been shuttered and people are barely holding on to survive. Downtown LA has one of the largest economic growth opportunities, and we can build a better future for all of us by making LA the epicenter of the clean energy revolution—investing in innovation to clean up the air we breathe and create good-paying jobs in the process."