Former Los Angeles City Councilman Gil Cedillo is defending the decision not to step down, saying he’s a victim of “abandonment culture.”

LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Former councilman Gil Cedillo, who defied widespread calls for his resignation for taking part in a racist talk in 2021 aimed at attempting to manipulate the city’s redistribution process, is defending his decision not to resign – citing McCarthyism, the abolition of culture and comedian Trevor Noah.

Cedillo released a more than 1,000-word statement through a spokesman on Monday, the first day after his term ended. He lost his re-election bid to Eunisses Hernandez in June, months before the leaked talk between Cedillo, fellow councilors Kevin de León and Nury Martinez, and Ron Herrera, leader of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.

“I have refused to step down until my term is up,” Cedillo said. “I’m not, and I haven’t done anything to justify it. My life’s work is to fight tirelessly for those who have no voice – regardless of their ethnic origin.”

He later added, “Despite all my critics’ calls for me to do ‘the right thing,’ I will say unequivocally that resigning was NOT the right thing to do.”

Martinez and Herrera both quickly resigned after the leak. De León has vowed to serve out the remainder of his term until 2024.

Cedillo said elections decide who gets to hold office, noting that he broke no laws. Instead, he noted that “taping someone without their consent is illegal” and that the Los Angeles Police Department’s investigation into the leak “will conclude who the criminals are here.”

In the leaked tapes, Cedillo dismissed black voters by saying, “The 25 black people are screaming,” to which de León replied, “But they’re screaming like they’re 250.”

RELATED | Kevin de León attends LA City Council amid furious protests, demanding resignation

Cedillo did not intervene when Martinez made a racist comment aimed at former councilman Mike Bonin’s black son.

Cedillo said in the statement: “Conversations can also get raw when people think they are speaking in private – which happened that day. No one disputes that the conversation crossed a line at several points, and I deeply regret not speaking out.”

But Cedillo tried to defend the redistribution discussion, citing frustrations that Latinos weren’t getting a fair share of city council representation relative to the population. At the time, Latinos held four of the 15 seats on the council, but made up half of Los Angeles’ population. He claimed that the councilors are “doing our job.”

“Ethnicity and income level are important factors in creating relatively balanced electoral maps, and we wanted to make sure Latinos and all communities were fairly represented,” Cedillo said.

Cedillo said he’s had “African American friends and mentors my entire life, from sports to school to politics,” citing a previous job with Mayor Tom Bradley and roles as a delegate for both Jesse Jackson when he ran for president in 1988 , as well as for Barack Obama in 2008.

In the leaked conversation, Cedillo openly advocated keeping certain communities, like Koreatown — a neighborhood with a majority Latinos — away from fellow districts he disliked.

Martinez said Councilwoman Nithya Raman is doing “a play” for Koreatown, but she, Martinez, would not consider the idea.

“There are some people who don’t justify our rescue,” Cedillo said, referring to Raman. She doesn’t matter. She is not our ally. She won’t help us. Your district is not a district that we can rely on.”

Raman is up for re-election in 2024. Martinez said it would serve them not to give Raman all of Koreatown because it would get Raman more tenants in their district.

“I told her that wasn’t happening,” Martinez said. “You’re going to get the district you’re going to get. you will have to walk And probably in a county where more than half don’t know who you are. Go f— do the work and see if you can be re-elected.”

“Our commitment is not to re-elect them.” Martinez then described the people who live in the Lafeyette Park and Shatto Place area of ​​Koreatown as “little dark people.” They are ugly.”

“I don’t know where these people are from,” Martinez said. “I don’t know what village they came from, how they got here.” De León said that Raman’s district “is the one to go to, put in the blender and chop, left or right.”

“Yes,” Cedillo replied. “Why not?”

Cedillo later spoke about certain areas he feared would be drawn into his district and requested that his district be moved further south and west. He said he doesn’t want to represent Elysian Valley, Eagle Rock, Highland Park and Lincoln Heights.

“I don’t need these areas,” Cedillo said. “I have poor people.”

Cedillo said that when comparing a district’s population and political makeup, “politics are just as important to us as population.”

“Voters go to work in Lincoln Heights and come home in Lincoln Heights,” Cedillo said. But the activists are there 24/7. And they don’t want us.”

In Monday’s statement, Cedillo was defiant that what he said – or didn’t say – did not reach the level to justify the resignation, despite calls for his resignation coming from as high a place as President Joe Biden.

“I apologized publicly for not interrupting my colleagues when their comments crossed a line,” Cedillo said. This is unacceptable.”

Cedillo had said little about the leaked conversation for months, and the only public statement continued to be that he was “in a place of reflection.”

By remaining on the council until the end of his term, Cedillo received his full salary of over $8,000 every two weeks even though he did not attend

a council meeting after October 11.

Cedillo, 68, has served on the council since 2013. Prior to that, he had a long career in the California Legislature, where he served in both the Assembly and Senate.

His lengthy explanation included mentioning Trevor Noah’s comments regarding singer Lizzo’s use of an insensitive phrase in a song, in which the former Daily Show host denounced how Lizzo continued to receive criticism even after she re-recorded the song without the phrase would have.

Cedillo concluded by claiming that there is a “modern version of McCarthyism” that poses a threat to democracy, “no defense.”

“It’s ‘cancel culture’ at its worst, and this kid from Boyle Heights never gave up,” Cedillo said.

Copyright 2022, City News Service, Inc.

Copyright © 2022 City News Service, Inc. All rights reserved. Former Los Angeles City Councilman Gil Cedillo is defending the decision not to step down, saying he’s a victim of “abandonment culture.”

Laura Coffey

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