Taking office nearly three decades after Former Mayor Tom Bradley, she’s now the second Black mayor of L.A.
Karen Ruth Bass, born October 3, 1953, is a longtime congresswoman and state lawmaker. On Wednesday, following a week of counting votes, she defeated billionaire developer Rick Caruso and became the first Black woman mayor of Los Angeles, pledging to combat homelessness and a long history of racial tensions. Although Caruso poured roughly $100M into his campaign and the battle remained “too close to call” for more than a week, L.A County election results showed Bass with 53% of the vote, an insurmountable lead of nearly 47,000 votes.
“The people of Los Angeles have sent a clear message,” Ms. Bass said in a statement on Wednesday. “It is time for change and it is time for urgency.” Her goal as mayor is to sooth the tensity between communities in the city. She said that the main reason she ran was the “familiarity of the current civic unease.”
Emiliana Guereca, Founder and President of Women’s March Action told News One, “Karen Bass’ victory is important to the people of Los Angeles because she is one of us. She will fight for women’s rights, build bridges, help house the homeless, secure federal dollars and bring fresh energy to City Hall. She is going to be a great role model and will make us proud.”
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Bass, 69, plans to do just that. She said she will declare a state of emergency on homelessness and find housing for 17,000 homeless people in her first year. Bringing to the job a long history of coalition-building that dates back to the 80s, when she applied for a federal grant to launch a nonprofit to address the crack epidemic, we know the Los Angeles native is passionate about building alliances to improve her community. Her nonprofit, The Community Coalition for Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment, now known as the Community Coalition, has since become one of the city’s largest advocacy groups.
In a statement on Wednesday, Mr. Caruso wished Ms. Bass congratulations. “There will be more to come from the movement we built,” he said, “but for now as a city we need to unite around Mayor-elect Bass and give her the support she needs to tackle the many issues we face.”
Photo credit: LA Times / The Real Deal