If there is a lesson to be learned from the recent racist controversy that has rocked Los Angeles, it is that we need new Latino leadership on the City Council.

There were only four Latinos on the city council but three of them either made or condoned the racist and bigoted recorded conversation. 

Nury Martinez has resigned.  Ron Herrera, the leader of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, who also was part of the racist conversation, resigned.

City Council Members Gil Cedillo and Kevin de Leon, who were part of the racist dialogue, have refused to resign.

Cedillo’s term expires at the end of the year. But de Leon said in two television interviews last week that he would not resign.  

“I failed in that moment and I failed to step up. I failed to not shut down a conversation I should have shut down,” he said in the interview.

We need Latino leaders who want to build up our community and also support the diverse and working people of Los Angeles. We need leaders who won’t condone or stay silent when bigoted and racist comments are made.

It’s time for a new generation of Latino leaders to help shape the reform needed in city government.

For this reason, at CALÓ News we endorse Hugo Soto-Martinez for city council district 13.

Born and raised in South Central LA, Soto-Martínez has spent 15 years as a union organizer.

He is the son of two immigrants from Mexico who made a living as street vendors. His father suffered a back injury that left him disabled and unable to work. His mother later worked as a janitor at LAX, and became part of the SEIU as it was a union job.

Soto-Martinez is a union leader with UNITE HERE Local 11. He organized with DSA-LA and became a co-coordinator of NOlympics LA, a campaign to oppose the 2028 LA Olympics.

Soto-Martinez also became a voice seeking justice for the June 2020 killing of Andres Guardado, 18, by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy. Guardado was shot in the back by deputies while working as a security guard in unincorporated Gardena.

Soto-Martinez is also co-chairing UNITE HERE Local 11’s #AdiosVillanueva campaign. This is a movement to hold the Sheriff Alex Villanueva accountable for mishandling the investigation into Guardado’s murder and other alleged misconduct.

Mitch O’Farrell has represented Los Angeles City Council District 13 since 2013. Last year, he planned the removal of 200 homeless people camped at Echo Park Lake. While O’Farrell has worked on affordable housing issues, we need someone who better understands the needs of the working people of Los Angeles.

We also support community activist Eunisses Hernandez who defeated Gil Cedillo in the primary race to represent District 1 of the Los Angeles City Council.

Hernandez helped draft Measure J, a proposal passed by voters and adopted in the 2020 November election. Measure J would direct 10% of the county’s locally unrestricted funding toward direct community investments, such as youth development, small business support, housing and rental assistance, job training, small business development, youth activities, alternatives to jails, and housing services. 

In 2020, Hernandez co-founded La Defensa, an abolitionist organization whose mission is to fight “for a fair & transparent pretrial process, for state and local budgets that reflect community values, and for life-affirming alternatives to incarceration.”

In an interview with CALÓ NEWS in July, Hernandez said, “We have a practice that we are calling co-governing. The policy is never really developed at the top; representatives do not necessarily know what’s happening within the communities. Frequently, the policy comes from the bottom up because those are the folks close to the problem; that’s why we will make sure we regularly have meetings with communities so they can share what they are going through.”

This approach of community-based leadership is what we need our leaders to focus on. 

We hope Hernandez and Martinez-Soto will lead a new wave of reform-minded, progressive Latino leadership on the Los Angeles City Council.