By T.A. Hendrickson
Since City Councilmember Kevin de León announced his candidacy last week for mayor of Los Angeles, many local commenters have said that the race will devour the time he might otherwise have spent on issues in Northeast L.A.
The Boulevard Sentinel asked De León to respond to that, especially with regard to major issues facing NELA. His response, by email:
“The residents of Northeast LA – and all of CD 14 – can rest assured that nothing will derail my focus on serving the district and responding to the needs of my constituents,” he wrote. “We are moving fast forward on housing our unhoused neighbors, elevating the voices of our community in Metro’s decision-making process on the future of BRT in Eagle Rock, and are fully engaged with the City of Glendale on the Scholl Canyon project to protect the health and well-being of Eagle Rock residents.”
De León also wrote that he proved his ability to address various issues simultaneously when he was President Pro Tem of the State Senate from 2014 to 2018: “I balanced the needs of my constituents with advancing a climate, retirement security, immigration reform, and homeless housing agenda for the entire state,” he wrote.
De León’s pledge to stay focused on NELA will soon be tested. The “tiny home” homeless shelters in NELA, championed by De León, will be up and running in the months ahead, requiring follow-through from CD 14 to either build on success or take corrective action if problems arise. Around year-end, Metro is expected to recommend a BRT route for Eagle Rock while Glendale is expected to make a decision on Scholl Canyon. Both of those outcomes will reflect the influence that De León brings to bear.
De León’s critics don’t think it’s possible to both lead CD 14 and run for mayor. “Running for Mayor of the City of Los Angeles is a full-time job, and although De León’s staff is capable, his political ambition will still leave CD 14 residents without real leadership for the next year or more,” said Cyndi Otteson, the businesswoman and former neighborhood council officer from Eagle Rock who ran against De León for the CD 14 city council seat in 2020.
During the CD 14 race – which De León won overwhelmingly – Otteson and the other candidates criticized him, saying he would use a city council seat to launch a mayoral bid rather than serve a full council term. De León usually responded to the criticism saying he was focused on the present not the future. He also declined to sign a pledge committing to a full council term. However, the L.A. Times recently recounted a campaign event in Eagle Rock where De León said he would serve a full council term if elected. Asked by the Times about those comments, De Leon said that the city is now at a “moment of crisis” and that “this is the time to lead.”
In his statement to the Sentinel, De Leon expanded on those quotes, writing: “I have always been honest with the people of Los Angeles, that I want to be in a position to lead – especially during moments of great crisis.”
As he runs for mayor of L.A., De León has said he will keep NELA uppermost in his mind and efforts. NELA stakeholders are likely to judge him on how he delivers on that pledge.
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