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Los Angeles Elects Karen Bass As Mayor, The First African American Woman To Hold The Title

U.S. Rep. Karen Bass pictured at a gathering. Photo Courtesy of Lord Jim. 

Karen Bass – the U.S. Representative of California District 37– has now won the mayor’s election of Los Angeles, making her the first African American woman to hold the position, succeeding the 42 men who held office before her.

“You’ve always been on the right side of the issues that we care so deeply about, and I’m confident you’re going to be an outstanding mayor of L.A.,” Former President Obama said to the now Mayor-elect in the late days of October when the race was neck and neck against her running mate, billionaire real estate developer Rick Caruso.

Eric Garcetti, the incumbent mayor of L.A. served two four-year terms and reached his term limit in 2022, allowing Los Angeles’ mayor’s election to be a toss-up for anyone qualified to run. Karen Bass threw in her bid for mayor in September of  2021 on Twitter.

As a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Chair of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Global Human Rights and the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus in 2019 and 2020, Bass has gained national recognition as a valuable member of Congress as she has implemented legislation through housing assistance programs, economic relief to small businesses, federal prison reforms through the FIRST Step Act and COVID relief for the communities of  Los Angeles.

According to public data site, Ethics LA City,  Bass’ opponent spent a total of $104.8 million in campaign expenses—$80 million being from his own pocket. Mayor-elect Bass spent $9.1 million, 11-times less than that of her opponent. 

Bass’ path to victory in the Los Angeles mayoral election could be credited to her endorsements from popular Democratic players. Bass was endorsed by former president Barack Obama, Vice President Kamala Haris, a Howard University alumna and the first Black woman to serve as Senator of California, the full support of the Biden administration, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and both Sens. Alex Padilla and Dianne Feinstein of California. 

Being popular among many Los Angelenos, Sen. Sanders and Vice President Kamala Karis joined Bass to mobilize voters and support the issues and actions Bass is passionate about addressing.

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“[Karen Bass] has a long history of always being on the side of the people and will continue to do so as the next mayor of Los Angeles,” Kamala Harris tweeted.  

Now occupying the seat she has spent over a year vying for, Mayor-elect Bass plans to combat homelessness by developing more temporary and affordable housing, as well as address a common cause of homelessness and fund mental health and substance abuse treatment services. She then plans to increase public safety by improving police effectiveness and response to at-risk neighborhoods to keep communities safe while investing in a community partnership to train Los Angeles Police Department officers in de-escalation techniques and relationship-building. 

However, Jared Keys, a freshman finance major at Howard University and a native of mid-city Los Angeles, has concerns about the actual impact that Karen Bass will bring to the city.

“On the one hand, I’m happy that the first Black woman mayor of L.A. has been elected, but on the other, I have serious concerns that she won’t be able to address homelessness adequately. I personally feel like Karen Bass comes from the same brand of Democrats that have been in control of L.A. for my entire life and that have let homelessness become the issue that it is, it’s not reassuring to see that continuity. However, despite my concerns, I know that she is a very qualified candidate and will undoubtedly do her best to serve the city,” Keys said.

He also states homelessness is one of the main issues that need to be addressed in Los Angeles.

“As far as issues go in L.A., my singular concern is homelessness, everything else is secondary to that,” Keys explained.

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Overall, Bass represents a change in Southern California, a look to implement policies to help the millions of in-need constituents that the mainstream Los Angeles lifestyle does not reflect and calls for allocating resources for the betterment of these individuals. 

Copy edited by Nhandi Long-Shipman

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