Festive mood to mark Bass inauguration

By Ray Richardson

Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES — Karen Bass’ formal introduction as the 43rd mayor of Los Angeles will have the feel of a community festival this weekend with a block party being held in Leimert Park Dec. 10 followed by a swearing-in ceremony outside City Hall Dec. 11.

Vice President Kamala Harris will administer the oath of office to Bass on the steps of City Hall at 11:30 Dec. 11.

Bass, the first woman mayor of Los Angeles and only the second African American to hold that office, will officially begin her new role Dec. 12.

“A champion of the people has made it all the way to the top of the city,” said Rev. William Smart, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California. “It’s great that we have someone in that office who will have a heart for all of the people of L.A.”

Smart will join numerous community leaders and Bass supporters at the swearing in ceremony for Bass, who defeated developer Rick Caruso in a runoff election Nov. 8.

The “Welcome Home Block Party” will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Leimert Park, hosted by KBLA Talk 1580. It will feature live performances by R&B singers Brian McKnight and Goapele and Grammy-award winning R&B band Club Nouveau.

“What Mayor-elect Karen Bass accomplished against a $100 million frontal assault from her billionaire challenger is nothing less than phenomenal,” KBLA host Tavis Smiley said in reference to Caruso’s campaign spending. “Victories don’t come easy for our community. When they do, we need to celebrate them, even as we hold all leaders accountable.”

Bass has moved quickly since her victory to put together a transition team, headed by Chris Thompson, who will serve as her chief of staff. Thompson was senior vice president of government relations for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic and Paralympic Games. He also served as chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California.

Honorary co-chairs of Bass’ transition team include labor and civil rights leader Dolores Huerta; Monica Lozano, president of the College Futures Foundation; Dominic Ng, CEO of East West Bank; civic and business leader Steve Soboroff and Yvonne Wheeler, president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.

Former City Council President Herb Wesson, a longtime friend of Bass, said he will watch Bass’ swearing in ceremony with “enormous pride.”

Wesson said he and Bass talk regularly each week and have kept in touch since her victory.

“To have known Karen as long as I have, to see her reach this level of service, will be magnificent to watch,” said Wesson, who served three terms as 10th District City Council member from 2005-2020. “Her two biggest assets: she’s a good human being and she stays calm. She’ll have a lot of good people around her to help her.”

Bass might be facing a polarizing challenge involving embattled 14th District Councilman Kevin De León. Bass recently said she would be willing to work with de León if he is still representing his district.

De Leon has been under intense scrutiny to resign after a taped recording featuring racist comments surfaced in October. De Leon was part of a meeting with three other Latino leaders where the comments were recorded and subsequently released on social media.

The recording led to the resignations of City Council President Nury Martinez and LA County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera. De León and 1st District Councilman Gil Cedillo, who was at the meeting, refused to resign. Cedillo’s council term expired this week after he lost his reelection bid in the June primary. De Leon’s term doesn’t end until 2024 although 14th District residents are currently circulating petitions in an effort to recall de León.

Melina Abdullah, president of Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles, wasn’t happy to hear that Bass was willing to work with de León.

“For Bass to say she’s willing to work with De Leon undermines all the protests we’ve been doing against him,” Abdullah said. “We’re not giving up our protests until he resigns. A lot of people in the city don’t want to work with him. If he tries to walk into the City Council, people will be walking out.”

Ray Richardson is a contributing writer for The Wave. He can be reached at rayrich55@gmail.com.