As Bass embarks on her new journey as Mayor of Los Angeles, we take a look at the road that brought her here.
“The crisis we face affects us all and all of us must be part of the solution,” said Los Angeles Mayor-elect Karen Bass at a press conference at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre after winning her mayoral race against Rick Caruso. She makes history has the first female and second African American mayor of the city.
“I will be the mayor for you.”
In politics, words must be backed with action, but that isn’t always the case. When it comes to Bass, she has shown time-and-time again that she backs what she says with her heart, mind and soul. From community organizer, to the California State Assembly, to Congress and now to mayor of Los Angeles — Bass has a proven track record.
Bass grew up in the Venice/Fairfax community of Los Angeles, which not surprisingly, she would come to represent later in Congress. She is the product of well-known and local educational institutions that include San Diego State University, Cal State Dominguez Hills, the University of Southern California’s School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program, and USC Masters Program in Social Work. In the 1980s, Bass worked as a physician assistant and clinical instructor at the USC Keck School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program.
In the early 1990s, she founded Community Coalition – also known as CoCo – a small group of Black and Latino community organizers to address disparities, crime and violence in South Los Angeles. Through CoCo, Bass created an organization that fostered changes in the community. As a result, CoCo has become nationally known for changing public policy and birthing a new generation of leaders.
Bass served in the California State Assembly from 2005 to 2010. In 2008, she became the first African American woman in U.S. history to serve as Speaker of any state legislature and was speaker of the assembly for two years. During the economic downturn of 2008, under her leadership, the state assembly came up with legislation that helped Californians affected by the economic crisis.
She was elected to represent California’s 33rd Congressional District in the U.S. House in 2010 and would represent the district until 2013. Following redistricting, Bass was elected to represent the 37th District in 2012 and would represent the district until recently. Bass served her sixth term representing the 37th Congressional District as of November 2020.
Bass served as the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus in 2019 and 2020. During that time, she worked with the Congressional Hispanic, Asian Pacific Islander, and Native American Caucuses and focused on response to the COVID-19 pandemic and initiated national assessment for communities of color. Bass also introduced the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which aims to transform policing legislation.
In Congress, she represented the Crenshaw District, Leimert Park, Baldwin Hills, View Park-Windsor Hills, Ladera Heights, Culver City, West Los Angeles, Westwood, Cheviot Hills, Little Ethiopia and parts of Koreatown and South Los Angeles.
Bass has also served on the Judiciary Committee since 2012, passing sweeping criminal justice and prison reforms. In 2020, she helped pass the Equality Act, which would provide consistent and explicit anti-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ community. Bass has served on the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations.
As chair of the Subcommittee, she has acted to build coalitions and support economic growth and partnerships to transform how the United States engages with African nations and to promote opportunities and economic growth between the nations.
In September 2021, Bass officially announced her bid for mayor of Los Angeles. Her campaign called for a public safety plan, which would restructure the departments allowing LAPD its authorized force of 9,700. Homelessness, being a key area of concern, Bass plans to tackle with a bold and aggressive emergency response.
She also looks to prevent crime from occurring by addressing its root causes and cracking down on illegal firearm possession, improving officers’ training in de-escalation tactics, accountability and transparency. Bass also plans to tackle climate change with access to clean transportation and open space, enhancing biodiversity and climate resiliency, conserving our natural resources, and training in the workforce for prosperous green jobs.
Bass had opponents in her bid for mayor, which included Councilman Joe Buscaino, City Attorney Mike Feuer, L.A. City Councilman Kevin de León, community activist Gina Viola and businessman Rick Caruso. Early on, Feuer dropped out of the race and announced his support for Bass.
In the primary race earlier this year, the field was further narrowed down to Caruso and Bass as clear front-runners, according to the polls. Caruso embarked on an expensive advertising tour and Bass accumulated a wealth of support from Angelenos, politicians, local and national, entertainment and business sectors.
After elections, Bass and Caruso fought for the lead as votes were being counted. Ultimately, Caruso phoned Bass on Nov. 15, to concede and congratulate her.
At her recent press conference, Mayor-Elect Bass reaffirmed her dedication to addressing the needs of the day: homelessness, housing affordability and crime.
Words backed with decades of action propelled Bass to mayor-elect today. A proven record of fighting and supporting the communities and city she grew up in and around determined her victory.
Mayor-Elect Bass now stands poised to take on the challenges ahead of her with all of the experience and knowledge that has shaped and formed her political career.