Karen Bass officially enters L.A. mayor’s race

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Wave Staff and Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — U.S. Rep. Karen Bass made it official Sept. 27, announcing her candidacy for mayor of Los Angeles.

“Our city is facing a public health, safety and economic crisis in homelessness that has evolved into a humanitarian emergency,” Bass said in a statement announcing her candidacy.

I’ve spent my entire life bringing groups of people together in coalitions to solve complex problems and produce concrete change — especially in times of crisis. Los Angeles is my home. With my whole heart, I’m ready. Let’s do this — together. I’m running for mayor.”

Bass joins a field of high-profile officials seeking to succeed Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is barred for running for re-election because of term limits.

City Councilmen Joe Buscaino and Kevin de León, City Attorney Mike Feuer, Central City Association of Los Angeles President and CEO Jessica Lall and businessman Mel Wilson already have announced their mayoral candidacies.

Garcetti, who is expected to leave office early pending the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of his appointment to ambassador of India, said at an unrelated news conference Sept. 27: “I love Karen Bass and it’s going to be a very exciting race with all sorts of candidates in it, and the nice thing about being a former mayor … is that I’ll get to assess the candidates and I get to be a voter, so I can’t wait to hear what all the candidates have to say.”

Bass would be Los Angeles’ first female mayor and only the second Black mayor, after Mayor Tom Bradley, who led the city from 1973 to 1993.

Councilman Mike Bonin came out in support of Bass shortly after her announcement, tweeting: “Karen Bass is the kind of leader Los Angeles needs. Vision. Brains. Heart. Skill. Conscience. Integrity. Hope. Karen Bass for Mayor.”

Bass would be the first sitting member of the House of Representatives to be elected mayor of Los Angeles since 1953, when Rep. Norris Poulson was elected. Then-Reps. James Roosevelt, Alphonzo Bell and Xavier Becerra lost campaigns for mayor in 1965, 1969 and 2001.

Bass was elected to the House in 2010 and was chair of the Congressional Black Caucus from 2019-21. She was under consideration to be President Joe Biden’s 2020 running mate before then-Sen. Kamala Harris was chosen instead.

She’s a national leader in Congress — a job that has no term limits,” Assemblyman Isaac Bryan, D-Los Angeles, tweeted last week about a potential mayoral run from Bass. “Her running for mayor would be the greatest demonstration of love and commitment to the city I’ve ever seen … and we need it.”

Community activist Najee Ali said he has known Bass for more than three decades and supports her candidacy.

“Her candidacy for Los Angeles mayor is a true game changer,” he said. “I know she will continue to fight for the quality of life for all Angelenos.”

Author and political analyst Earl Ofari Hutchinson said Bass could make more of a difference for her community as mayor of Los Angeles as opposed to continuing to serve in Congress.

“There are 435 [members of Congress,” he said, “but only one mayor of L.A.”

The 67-year-old Bass represents the 37th Congressional District, which encompasses Los Angeles neighborhoods west and southwest of downtown including Crenshaw, Baldwin Hills, Miracle Mile, Pico-Robertson, Century City, Cheviot Hills, West Los Angeles, Mar Vista and parts of Westwood, as well as Culver City and Inglewood.

Bass was a member of the Assembly from 2004-10, serving as its speaker from 2008-10.

On her newly established campaign website, Bass touted her work in the state Legislature to fast-track “economic stimulus legislation” during the state’s economic crisis, as well as her passing “legislation to make health care more accessible and affordable for Californians” and spearheading efforts “to improve the child welfare system and provide tax credits to keep film production in California.”

The primary for the 2022 Los Angeles mayoral election will take place on June 7, with the top two finishers squaring off in the general election Nov. 8.

Bass’ website focuses heavily on the issue of homelessness. It states that Bass “knows that solving this crisis means addressing the root causes of homelessness: lack of affordable housing, health care, job training, mental health services, and drug and alcohol counseling. Today’s homelessness crisis demands urgent attention to root causes, not just surface-level fixes or divisive talking points by politicians.”

Bass had been facing public pressure to run for mayor during recent weeks, and on Aug. 23, a California-based public opinion research firm released a poll that found more than a quarter of a sample of the city’s Democrats supported her against current and potential candidates in the 2022 election.

Along with Bass, other potential candidates included in the poll were former Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner, Council President Nury Martinez, Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas and businessman Rick Caruso. The poll also included Buscaino, Feuer and de León — who had not yet announced his candidacy.

Ridley-Thomas and Martinez have both said they will not run for mayor in 2022.

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