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Meet Kevin de León

Meet Kevin de León

In the course of a remarkable career, Kevin de León has been an educator, activist, community organizer, and the first Latino leader of the California State Senate in 130 years. For the last decade, Kevin represented Senate District 24, which overlaps a significant portion of our city council district.

Currently, Kevin is a professor, senior analyst, and distinguished policymaker-in-residence at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs; as well as a Distinguished Fellow for Climate, Environmental Justice and Health with the USC Schwarzenegger Instituted at the University of Southern California.

Kevin de León was elected to the California State Senate in 2010, and in 2014 he was elected by his colleagues to lead the Senate, making him the first Latino to serve as President pro Tempore in over a century. Before his election to the Senate, Kevin served four years in the State Assembly.

During his time as President pro Tempore of the California State Senate, Kevin led the 40-member body to historic accomplishments to improve the lives of Californians, the state's environment, and economy for decades to come. Kevin secured more than $68 million to revitalize the Los Angeles River, $176 million to clean up toxic waste around the former Exide Technologies facility, funding for more than a dozen new parks, and $26 million to complete the Los Angeles State Historic Park. He appropriated tens of millions of dollars to make Los Angeles schools more energy-efficient through Prop 39, bringing relief to city taxpayers. Kevin also authored Proposition 68, to keep drinking water clean and open new parks throughout the state. As author of Proposition 2, he secured the largest financial investment to build permanent supportive housing for Californians experiencing homelessness, especially in Los Angeles.

Prior to being elected to public office, Kevin worked as a community organizer and also as a teacher, teaching English as a Second Language and U.S. Citizenship. Working for the National Education Association and the California Teachers Association, Kevin advocated to improve funding for schools in low-income neighborhoods, modernize school facilities, and expand health insurance for children. He fought schemes to take funds from public schools through taxpayer-funded vouchers and academic censorship in public schools.

Kevin is the son of a single, immigrant mother, who supported her family working as a house-keeper, among other jobs. Kevin was the first in his family to graduate from high school and college. He attended U.C. Santa Barbara and graduated from Pitzer College with honors.

Family Photo

Leader on the Environment and Clean Energy

Kevin de León solidified California's reputation as a recognized global leader in the battle against climate change and for the development of a clean energy economy. He led the California delegation to the U.N. Climate Talks in Peru and Morocco and accompanied Governor Brown to Paris in 2015 to showcase California's landmark accomplishments.

He played a central role in crafting the bipartisan deal to extend California's cap-and-trade program with $1 billion of the generated revenue dedicated to tackling diesel pollution and bolstering electrification of our transportation and vehicles.

Continuing steady progress in energy efficiency, Kevin put California on a path to 50% renewable energy by 2030 – the largest state in the nation to do so – with an eye toward becoming 100% renewable by 2045.

California is the nation's leader in clean energy and has created over 500,000 clean energy jobs – 10 times more than there are coal jobs in the entire country.

Kevin’s policymaking created rebates to make electric cars more accessible to working families with the goal of placing one million low-emission vehicles on the road. Additionally, he passed requirements that California spend at least 25 percent of cap-and-trade revenue to benefit heavily polluted, low-income communities.

In 2012, Kevin co-chaired the successful Proposition 39 campaign closing a corporate-tax loophole and creating a $2.5 billion revenue fund for energy efficiency upgrades in schools.

Kevin's first legislative measure secured park funds for communities lacking parks and green space, resulting in 126 new park projects across the state, the most extensive initiative of its kind in the nation.

Transportation, Housing, and Infrastructure

Kevin was instrumental in shepherding an additional $5.4 billion a year investment in road, freeway, bridge and transit projects over the next decade. The result will be lower commute times, safer roads and job creation. Kevin also successfully passed SB 5, giving Californians the opportunity to make long-overdue investments in our parks and flood-control infrastructure with a $4 billion general obligation bond measure.

At a time when homeownership in California is at its lowest point since the 1940s, Kevin led the Senate in moving legislation to fund new housing development, streamline approval processes, strengthen existing laws, and create more local accountability to build new housing and in-crease homeownership across the Golden State. Focusing on the most vulnerable, like returning veterans and the homeless, the Senate passed landmark measures to help those with the fewest options when it comes to housing.

In 2016, Kevin championed the "No Place Like Home" initiative, an innovative and ambitious proposal to address homelessness in California by securing $2 billion in bond financing for construction and rehabilitation of permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless Californians suffering from mental illness.

Immigrant Protection

Kevin led the fight against President Trump's efforts to commandeer local law enforcement for his anti-immigrant agenda. Kevin successfully passed SB 54, the California Values Act, which prohibits state and local law enforcement agencies, including school police and security departments, from using local resources to perform the job of the federal government.

With President Trump's decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program, Kevin was instrumental in negotiating a $30 million investment to assist the nearly 250,000 Dreamers in California with legal services as well as safety net funding.

In 2013, Kevin brokered a compromise with Governor Jerry Brown to pass a law that allowed undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers licenses, access insurance, and step out of the shadow economy to make our roads safer for everyone.

Before joining the Legislature, Kevin taught citizenship courses to immigrants and led opposition to the 1994 Proposition 187, a voter-approved statewide initiative that denied government services to undocumented immigrants.

Voice for the Working Class

Kevin was the Senate's lead negotiator to secure a $15 minimum wage for all California workers. He authored legislation to confront wage theft in cities across California, and he overcame powerful opposition from Wall Street to pass SB 1234, which created the Secure Choice retirement-savings program for California's private sector, low-income workers. Secure Choice was the first automatic IRA policy of its kind in the nation and will help millions of Californians achieve retirement security when fully implemented.

Kevin also negotiated expansion of California's Film and Television Tax Credit Program, replacing the program's lottery system with a process quantifying job creation and economic benefits to the state's economy resulting in tens of thousands of new jobs for Californians.

Women's Advocate

When Planned Parenthood advocated for an increase in Medi-Cal reimbursement rates for reproductive health care, Kevin carried their fight into budget negotiations and secured $50 million from Proposition 56 tobacco tax revenue.

Guided by a belief in a woman's right to control her health care, Kevin has been a stalwart defender for preserving federal funding for family planning as a Republican-led administration continues to target Planned Parenthood for defunding.

Kevin’s unwavering advocacy for access and choice has been recognized by Planned Parenthood with a consistent 100% voting record and numerous awards, with special recognition in 2014 for legislative leadership.

In 2014, Kevin’s bill to prevent sexual assault on college campuses was the first law in the nation to require affirmative consent, earning him the recognition from Marie Claire as one of the "ten biggest supporters of women's rights in U.S. government." Ms. Magazine selected his "yes means yes" measure as the most significant legislative victory on behalf of women for 2014.

Also in 2015, he empowered women in the workforce with state budget funding for thousands more slots for subsidized child care.

Public Safety

For nearly a decade, Kevin has led California’s fight for sensible gun violence prevention laws. In 2016, he led the charge to enact the most stringent gun violence prevention policies in a generation, including his groundbreaking SB 1235 requiring background checks for anyone who buys or sells ammunition.

Negotiating the Budget

During his tenure as Senate leader, budgets were delivered on time, provided protective reserves, paid down debt, provided relief funding for the drought, and wisely invested in children and working families. He secured critical education investments, pushing for new dollars for childcare and higher education. Under his leadership, California added over 20,000 additional slots for California students at the University of California and the California State University.

Why I'm Running

“I believe Los Angeles can do better, think bigger, and come up with more creative solutions to solve the problems facing our neighborhoods. As your Councilmember, I will build strong coalitions and advance policies to reduce homelessness, improve clean air and water, and make sure that our city is a safe place to live, work, and play.”

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Kevin de León with members of the community. Kevin de León with members of the community. Kevin de León with members of the community. Kevin de León with members of the community. Kevin de León with members of the community. Kevin de León with members of the community. Kevin de León with members of the community. Kevin de León with members of the community. Kevin de León with members of the community.