October 24, 2022
An Open Letter to Members of the Los Angeles City Council from Latino Civic Leaders
The past two weeks have been a trying time in Los Angeles and throughout California. We joined Angelenos in condemning the appalling dialogue by city leaders representing a significant part of the Latino community in Los Angeles. Like all of you, we asked for their immediate resignation, knowing that in so doing, more than 750,000 predominately Latino residents would be left without representation on the Los Angeles City Council until a special election can be held.
Even as this crisis continues to unfold, we believe it is now time to lay the groundwork for the hard work ahead to rebuild and help heal Los Angeles. This includes strengthening race relations, centering a focus on social justice on policy matters, and establishing higher standards for our elected officials. It is time to chart a principled path for the role an emerging Latino majority plays in our community. In that spirit, we have developed the following statement of principles and call on all responsible leaders, both elected and non-elected, to engage in more productive discussions around these areas of focus.
- We reiterate our call for the resignations of the elected officials who participated in the offensive and prejudicial dialogue. These words and attitudes are unacceptable for leaders of this community.
- We believe Latinos should hold their elected officials, be they Latino or not, to the highest standards of ethics and integrity, and all Angelenos should do the same.
- We believe that the underlying question of Latino under-representation in local government is central to ensuring a true representative democracy. While Latinos are 40% of the state, and 50% of the city and county, that Latinos are only 27% of council seats and 20% of supervisor seats is of concern as our city government is not representative of our population, which hinders and thwarts progress on critical community needs.
- Representatives—including those selected to fill the unexpired terms—must authentically reflect the experiences, needs and aspirations of the people they represent. We also firmly believe that those who seek to run for elected office should be committed to building coalitions with other historically marginalized groups and to advancing public policy that eliminates systemic racism and advances social justice and equity.
- While zero-sum competition is inevitable for a fixed number of seats, zero-sum politics are NOT. Latinos should hold their elected officials—and indeed all elected officials—to a standard of representation that raises up and improves the lives of all constituents.
- We are deeply disappointed by actions and statements which appear opportunistic and designed to inflame and exaggerate differences rather than draw constituencies together. We remind those who would profit from this moment that many Black and Latino elected officials at all levels of government, in office today, hold those seats having received a majority—and often a super-majority—of votes from the other group. Black/Brown commonalities and moments of political cooperation, and indeed cooperation with other communities in Los Angeles, far exceed those of conflict, no matter what you have read in the papers.
- The City of Los Angeles is overdue for institutional reform, especially reform that depoliticizes the redistricting process.
- We are committed to creating the next era of Los Angeles politics – one that focuses on problem-solving, fair representation, inclusive decision making, and improving the lives for all Angelenos.
As Latino civic leaders who care deeply for the future of all Angelenos, we write to you in the spirit of cooperation and mutual respect. The next few weeks the council will decide on how to fill the seats vacated resulting from this crisis and how to reform the redistricting process. We request an opportunity to meet with the leadership of the Los Angeles City Council to partner with you in ensuring these principles are at the forefront of your decision making. A representative of our coalition will coordinate with Council President Paul Krekorian on the next steps.
Thank you for your thoughtful management of this difficult time in our City’s history. We remain optimistic, given the diverse and strong outcry from every part of the city, that from this moment a new course of a more equitable and representative City government will emerge.
Fernando J. Guerra, Ph.D.
October 11, 2022
An Open Letter Regarding Los Angeles City Council Members Nury Martinez, Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo from Latino Civic Leaders
We write today in our personal capacity as Latino civic leaders and Angelenos who believe in a just, equitable and inclusive Los Angeles for all. The hateful, racist, and divisive comments heard in the recording released this weekend have no place in public or behind closed doors.
We expect better of our Latino elected officials, and Los Angeles deserves better. We are deeply saddened. These public officials have breached the trust and confidence of our entire city. We condemn their anti-Black, homophobic, and prejudiced sentiments against Indigenous people and other marginalized communities in our city.
Angelenos deserve elected officials who respect them and reflect their values. We must hold these individuals accountable for their hateful remarks and participation. We call for the resignations of Los Angeles City Council Members Nury Martinez, Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo.
These elected officials have failed us and our community as leaders. They have deepened the pain that our communities have experienced especially during a time when our nation has been struggling with hate speech and political division. It is imperative that these city council members resign and accept accountability.
Fernando J. Guerra, Ph.D.