Los Angeles Mayor-elect Karen Bass promised to end homelessness in the city in her first address after she was elected as the nation’s first woman to lead it.
The Democratic congresswoman, speaking at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre on Thursday, urged voters to join her effort to house more than 40,000. She spoke out about her roots as a coalition builder and warned wealthy neighborhoods against resisting plans to build affordable housing.
Bass stated that the crisis facing us all affects us all and that all of us must work together to solve it. Being a coalition builder does not mean singing Kumbaya together. It is about mobilizing all resources, skills, and talent in this city.
“The people of Los Angeles have sent an unambiguous message. Bass stated that it was time to make changes and act quickly. Many Angelenos don’t feel safe in their neighborhood, and their families are priced out of their communities. This has to change. I am addressing the Los Angeles people to tell them that we will end homelessness. We will respond immediately to crime and prevent it from happening again. Los Angeles will be affordable for working families.
After defeating Rick Caruso (real estate magnate), Bass now faces these enormous challenges. He spent more than $104million, outspending his opponent by more than 11-to-1.
She built a winning coalition of voters using the two constituencies that had powered her previous wins in her Los Angeles-area congressional District – Black voters from the west and White progressives from West Los Angeles – and expanded on that base by promising to bring together LA’s diverse community while rejecting Caruso’s broadsides about long-serving politicians who he claimed failed to solve the city’s most pressing problems.
Caruso, a former Republican-turned-independent who became a Democrat before announcing his run in an overwhelmingly Democratic city, had hoped to increase turnout among independents, moderates, and Latinos – putting more than $10 million into Spanish-language media to drive his message that an outsider would be best suited to tackle voters’ concerns about crime, homelessness, and corruption at City Hall. Although thousands of ballots remain to be counted in Los Angeles County, Bass managed to create an unstoppable lead by mobilizing an army of volunteers to knock at doors throughout the city.
Bass will replace Eric Garcetti as Mayor for a term. He will be in charge of City Hall’s government during a time of turmoil. Recently leaked audio recordings revealed that several City Council members made openly racist comments behind closed doors at a meeting in 2021. They were discussing their frustration with the city’s redistricting committee’s proposed maps.
After the Los Angeles Times published a story about the racist comments made on October 9, the
leaked audio was made public anonymously by Reddit. It was then obtained by the Los Angeles Times. This led to widespread calls for the resignation of the council members. The audio came from a conversation that was a year old between Nury Martinez, the then-City Council President, Gil Cedillo and Kevin de Leon, and Ron Herrera (then-Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President).
Bass tweeted on October 10, that Los Angeles must move in a “new direction” and that it was impossible unless the four people caught on tape quit their offices immediately. (Bass, who had been supported by Martinez, was criticized for not calling for their resignations after the October 9 LA Times story revealed the details. Martinez was initially removed as Council president. In the end, Herrera and Martinez both resigned. Cedillo & de Leon apologized for their roles in the conversation but refused to resign.
Bass stated on Thursday, “I will not accept corruption and cronyism.”
Bass will take over the new office on 12/12. This is a remarkable transition. The four largest US cities will have Black mayors when she assumes office. This includes Eric Adams in New York City, Lori Lightfoot in Chicago, and Sylvester Turner in Houston.
Bass said Thursday that she will declare a “state of emergency” on homelessness as one of her first acts in office. She also identified “very specific areas” where people will be housed.
Bass and Caruso both said they would declare an emergency to address homelessness, but critics claim it will be symbolic.
She stated that there is a lot of bureaucratic red tape in our country that must be removed. That’s why I call a state emergency to have the power to declare a “state of emergency” to allow me to have the power to not only eliminate all red tape but to also address certain burdens – hurdles that people need to overcome to build.
Bass stated in her Thursday speech, that she would detail her plans more when she takes office in December.
After receiving praise from both sides of the aisle, the six-term congresswoman stressed the depth of her policy expertise in her campaign. In Los Angeles County, she began her career working as a physician assistant. Later, she sought to unite Black and Latino community organizers in South LA to tackle the root causes of and crack epidemic. Through the non-profit Community Coalition, she founded.
She was elected to the California State Assembly in 2004. Four years later, she became the first Black woman to be elected speaker of the state. Her work with other state legislators to make difficult budget decisions during the 2008 financial crisis earned her the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 2010
During Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, he vetted Bass (then-chair of the Congressional Black Caucus) to be his running mate in 2020. She was also leading negotiations to improve police accountability after the Minneapolis police shooting of George Floyd.
She said Thursday that she welcomes Caruso voters in “every aspect of my administration”, and she expressed hope to work with her former opponent when she assumes her new role.
She said that she considered Caruso her friend even though he had spent over $100 million to defeat her. You must fight with all you have. It’s over when the game is over.