Standing before a multi-ethnic group of supporters, Mayor-elect Karen Bass declared her intentions to tackle the city’s most pressing issues on day one of her tenure.
Bass expressed that commitment at her first press conference since being recognized as the winner of Los Angeles mayoral race on Wednesday, Nov. 16. Scores of advocates and members of the press were invited to the Wilshire Ebell Theater in Mid-City L.A. to hear about her initial plans.
Attired in a bright green power suit, the next chief executive of Los Angeles thanked everyone who backed her campaign, then vowed to assemble a team to immediately address the top concerns of the electorate – namely homelessness, housing affordability and crime. Acknowledging the challenges inherent in tackling those problems, Bass alluded to the approach that her colleague, the late John Lewis, often recommended “when facing a difficult situation.”
“He said, ‘If you couldn’t feel like you knew how to solve the problem, then it was your responsibility to make a way out of no way.’ That’s the spirit that drove me to run for mayor and it’s the spirit through which I will govern,” insisted the mayor-elect.
She also commended Rick Caruso, her opponent in the race, saying that she had “great respect for anyone willing to put it all on the line to serve the public.” Caruso phoned Bass on Nov. 15, to concede and congratulate her on the win, a conversation she described as “great.” She added, “I know he will continue his civic participation in the city that we both love. I look forward to working together with him in the future.”
Also, Bass pledged to be the mayor for everyone, “no matter who you voted for,” she said. “I will be the mayor for you,” promised Bass. “The crisis we face affects us all and all of us must be part of the solution.” Widely labeled as a coalition-builder, Bass said that she will use those skills to “marshal the resources” to solve the plights facing Los Angeles.
People familiar with the many talents that Bass possesses nodded in agreement as she spoke those words and Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who attended the event, outlined his reasons for his belief in her capabilities.
“I’ve watched Karen bring people together that wouldn’t be together otherwise and I’ve seen her put them in the position to do their best work,” Harris-Dawson said. “I think that’s what the city needs right now. This city has great people, great capacity, but we all got to row in the same direction and we’ve all got to be focused on the same goal. I think Karen has the singular ability to allow us to do that.”
Wendy Gladney, who has known and worked with Bass for more than 30 years, voiced similar comments. “I think Karen has the power of the people behind her and support across the board. I think her dreams and plans will come to fruition based on her love of the city, her love of the community and her desire to make a difference. Also, she’s humble and not out for any power trip,” noted Gladney.
Gladney’s daughter, Courtney, who was one of the many young adults cheering Bass’ remarks at the press conference, echoed that reflection. “I’ve been supportive of Karen since day one. I’ve known her since I was a little girl when she was out in the community with my mom. As young African American woman, it’s important to see yourself in this position and it’s just a very exciting day to see her win.”
According to Pastor Edward Anderson of McCarty Memorial Christian Church in the West Adams District, “Karen Bass represents the best of Black Los Angeles and the hope of many of our ancestors to have a Black woman mayor who have a vision to eliminate homelessness and gentrification and making sure we have living wage jobs.”
Pastor Najuma Smith-Pollard of Word of Encouragement Church in downtown L.A. referred to Bass’ plans as “the agenda for the people” when explaining why she supported the mayor-elect. “I believe in her agenda, I believe in her vision for Los Angeles,” Smith-Pollard said. “I believe that Karen Bass has what it takes to collaborate and partner with the people of this city to make a difference.”