Black leaders across the country are congratulating former Congresswoman Karen Bass after she made history November 16 to become Los Angeles’ first female mayor.
She defeated billionaire Rick Caruso, who narrowly led her after polls closed during the November 8 election. But hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots kept the race going well over a week after Election Day. The mail-in ballots helped Bass defeat her opponent who was endorsed by many big Hollywood actors and celebrities. Bass is the second Black person to lead America’s second largest city that has nearly 3.8 million residents. Los Angeles’ first Black mayor was Tom Bradley, who held the post from 1973 to 1993. Bradley died in 1998.
Bass succeeds Mayor Eric Garcetti, whose two terms as the city’s leader conclude next month.
Hours after her win, Bass released a statement.
“The people of Los Angeles have sent a clear message: it’s time for change and it’s time for urgency.
“This is the city where I was born. It’s the city where my mother and father raised me and my three brothers. It’s the city where I raised my children and where my children are raising their children—Emilia and Michael are always in our hearts.
“I ran for mayor to urgently confront the crises our hometown faces. Tonight, 40,000 Angelos will sleep without a home, and five will not wake up. Crime is increasing and families are being priced out of their homes.”
Black leaders of America’s most prominent organizations took to Twitter to congratulate Bass on her big victory.
Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP, tweeted “Huge congratulations, Madam Mayor-elect. You pushed for necessary reforms and progressive policies in Congress, and now we look forward to working with you as Los Angeles’ new mayor—and the first woman to ever serve in that role!”
The National Urban League tweeted, “History has been made again! @KarenBassLA will become the first woman mayor (and only the second Black Angeleno) of Los Angeles!”
Hours before the Associated Press called the race, the Black newspaper Los Angeles Sentinel tweeted, “Karen Bass will be the next Mayor of Los Angeles and has made history in the process. Despite being outspent 12 to 1, Karen Bass proved City Hall is not for sale !!”
The Crusader emailed Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot for a comment on Bass’ victory, but she did not respond by Friday’s (November 18) deadline for the Thanksgiving holiday.
In 2019, Lightfoot became the first Black female of the nation’s second largest city.
With more than 70 percent of the votes counted on November 17, Bass had an insurmountable lead of nearly 47,000 votes. She had 53.1 percent, with Caruso notching 46.9 percent.
Bass was working in her Congressional office in Los Angeles when she was informed by an aide that she had won the race.
Caruso said in a statement that, “the voters have spoken,” adding that he was proud of his campaign.
“There will be more to come from the movement we built, 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. Congratulations, Karen, and God-speed,” the statement said in part.
Bass, a Democrat, was on President Joe Biden’s short list for Vice President. A former chair of the nation’s Congressional Black Caucus, Bass overcame more than $100 million in spending by the billionaire Caruso’s campaign while arguing that she would be a coalition builder who could heal Los Angeles.
Caruso, a former Republican who became a Democrat shortly before entering the race, argued that Bass and other longtime politicians were part of the problem who led Los Angeles into multiple crises. He promised to expand the police department to deal with rising crime rates and quickly get ubiquitous homeless encampments off the streets.
Bass was endorsed by current and former presidents Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Vice President Kamala Harris and the Democratic establishment. She was also endorsed by NBA legend Magic Johnson and actresses Keri Washington, Alfre Woodard, Tiffany Haddish, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Oscar- winning film director Steven Spielberg.
Billionaire Elon Musk, Snoop Dogg, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kim Kardashian, Noah Centineo and Katie Perry endorsed Caruso.
Bass takes office next month as the city contends with a spiraling homeless crisis and the City Council faces a racism scandal that led to the resignation of its former president and calls for the resignation of two more members.