Kevin de Leon Enters 14th District City Council Race

Kevin de Leon at an appearance at Vista Hermosa Natural Park last June.

DTLA-A political heavyweight has joined the field of candidates seeking the 14th District City Council seat.

On Monday, Feb. 11, former state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon announced that he is running to represent the district that covers Downtown Los Angeles, Boyle Heights and neighborhoods in Northeast L.A. He will seek to replace José Huizar, who will be termed out in 2020.

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The political veteran was elected to the state Assembly in 2006 and moved to the Senate in 2010, where he stayed for eight years; he became President of the Senate in 2014. Last year he challenged United States Sen. Dianne Feinstein. He barely made the runoff, and lost in the general election in November.

During his time in the Senate de Leon was known as an advocate on issues such as immigrants’ rights, climate change and infrastructure repair. A move to the City Council would give him a role in making policy decisions for the city, but would also require him to respond to “pothole politics” concerns and the neighborhood-level needs of the approximately 250,000 residents of the district.

“The Fourteenth District needs a leader who can leverage relationships with state and federal partners to make sure our city is building homes for Angelenos experiencing homelessness, keeping our air clean, and reducing traffic and commute times,” de Leon said in a prepared statement.

So far five other people have filed paperwork to raise money for the race, though none has much of a political profile. A sixth person, Huizar’s wife Richelle Huizar, declared her candidacy for the seat last September, but withdrew from the race two months later following an FBI raid of her husband’s City Hall office and the couple’s Boyle Heights home.

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The announcement that de Leon is seeking the council seat has prompted speculation that, if he wins, he will use it as a springboard to run for mayor in 2022, when Eric Garcetti is termed out of office. That has happened before in the district. In 2003, Antonio Villaraigosa ran for the council seat and beat an incumbent, Nick Pacheco. Though Villaraigosa promised during the campaign that he would serve a full term, he shifted course and ran for mayor two years later, and knocked off Jim Hahn.

The 14th District election is in March 2020. If no candidate gets a majority of the vote, the top two finishers will proceed to a November runoff.

Copyright 2019 Los Angeles Downtown News