Black faith leaders also voice their support and vow to encourage members to vote in the upcoming election
Congressman Jim Clyburn (D-SC), the third most powerful leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, urged Angelenos to support Karen Bass for mayor of Los Angeles on May 3, at an event hosted by Danny J. Bakewell, Sr. at the L.A. Sentinel.
During a prayer breakfast and press conference with pastors of the city’s largest African American churches, Clyburn related the national significance of electing leaders like Bass and how it positively impacts campaigns of Black Americans across the nation.
“I want you all to let people know what Karen Bass as mayor will mean to them, their families and their communities. I think if you succeed in pulling this off, you will demonstrate to communities all over this country that they can’t outspend us,” he declared.
Clyburn encouraged the ministers to alert their congregations to expect ballots in the mail starting Monday, May 9. Also, even though June 7 is Election Day, ballots can be completed and mailed before that date.
“I learned growing up that we have to be intertwined as a community. My dad (who was a pastor) had three books in his pulpit,” recalled Clyburn.
“One was the Bible, one was a hymnal and the third was a book that he put together of every registered voter in our precinct. He made it his business to contact everybody in the book every election day. It would be sinful if all of your parishioners were to get the ballot and you not preach about it. Let’s get this done!”
Noting his personal relationship with Bass, Clyburn added, “When I got the chance to work with Karen Bass, I saw in her someone that is dedicated to making this country’s greatness accessible to all the citizens, but also affordable to citizens. Of all the housing in the world, no matter how many units you build in Los Angeles, if people can’t afford it, it might as well not be built. That’s what her candidacy is about, and I’m happy to be here today and do what I can.”
Next, Bakewell introduced Bass, who rose to outline the main areas she will focus on upon becoming mayor. Remarking that L.A. is at an “inflection point,” the candidate listed the top issues that concern most citizens – “homelessness, crime and profound income inequality.”
Addressing homelessness, Bass said, “L.A. has become so unaffordable that people are living on the streets. We’re watching places where we grew up that due to gentrification, the adult kids can’t afford to live there and have to move out of town.”
Bass also mentioned campaign spending by her closest opponent, Rick Caruso, which has totaled $23 million on advertising – more than any mayoral candidate in the city’s history.
“The good news is he spent all of that money – I have not spent a dime – and all he did was catch up with me. You would have thought he would have run me over with a truck by now. I’m sure that has frustrated him,” she said.
To illustrate her point, she noted that the Police Protective League, the union that LAPD officers belong to, just purchased a $500,000 media buy to support Caruso’s campaign and attack Bass with false messages about her platform such as she wants to defund the police.
“You’ll see those hits coming in an effort to drive down my numbers, but you’ll begin to see mail and TV ads from me in the coming week,” said Bass, who added that she was grateful for the support and prayers of the pastors.
Among the clergy in attendance Bishop Clement W. Fugh, presiding prelate of the AME 5th Episcopal District; the Rev. Dr. J. Benjamin Hardwick, president of the Western Baptist State Convention; and the Rev. Dr. Najuma Smith-Pollard, assistant director of USC Cecil Murray Center for Civic Engagement and pastor of Word of Encouragement Community Church.
“We’re pushing souls to the polls and souls to the mailbox. We understand what’s at stake. Everything is at stake and we believe, in this time, that Karen Bass is the right woman for the job of mayor of Los Angeles today and [we] look forward to making history on June 7th. The faith community is behind her,” asserted the Rev. K.W. Tulloss, president of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Los Angeles and Southern California.
Voicing similar comments, Pastor Doug Nelson of True Baptist Church said, “We have seen the past works of Karen Bass. We’ve seen the good work she’s done in our communities. We’ve seen the schools she’s built, and the driving out of liquor stores. Because of the past work she’s done we have evidence she’ll be a great mayor. We’re sending our members to the mailbox because God has called Karen to be the mayor of Los Angeles!”
Others in attendance were Pastor J. Edgar Boyd of First AME –L.A., Pastor R.A. Williams of McCoy Memorial Baptist, Pastor Ken Walden of Holman United Methodist Church, Pastor Edward Anderson of McCarty Memorial Christian Church, Pastor Joyce Reece Kitchen of Emmanuel-Turner AME Church and Bishop Marvis Davis of First Baptist Church of Venice.
Also on hand were Councilmembers Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Herb Wesson, Ward EDC Executive Director Jacqueline Dupont-Walker, and West Angeles CDC Executive Director Belinda Allen.
Staff Writer Devyn Bakewell contributed to this story.