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Rep. Karen Bass makes it official: Announces candidacy for mayor

Rep. Karen Bass. (300852)
Rep. Karen Bass.

“Our city is facing a public health, safety and economic crisis in homelessness that has evolved into a humanitarian emergency,” Rep. Karen Bass, (CA-37), 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,” she said. “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 from running for re-election because of term limits.

On her campaign website, Bass outlines her vision for the city, saying she will focus on homelessness, calling it “a public health and humanitarian crisis.”

Her website emphasizes the need to address “the root causes” of the crisis, including through affordable housing, health care, job training, mental health services and drug and alcohol counseling.

Bass’ focus on homelessness echoes the rest of the 2022 mayoral election’s high-profile candidates,  including City Councilmen Joe Buscaino and Kevin de Leon, City Attorney Mike Feuer, Central City Association of Los Angeles President and CEO Jessica Lall and businessman Mel Wilson.

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.”

Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas said on Twitter “Let’s go! All in!! Proud of you!!!”

In Wednesday’s zoom meeting with members of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, Bass noted that progression in LA is tied to what is happening in the country and she hopes that progressives here can move the country to address the humanitarian crisis of homelessness as well as the law enforcement crisis.

“I have been called home,” Bass said. “I do believe this race has national implications.”

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, but 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-54), 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.”

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 State 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 healthcare 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 election on 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.

Hours after Bass jumped into the race, City Attorney and mayoral candidate Mike Feuer called for a series of debates among the candidates.

“Voters deserve to know much more about who we are and what we stand for because in many ways their safety, livelihoods and quality of life depend on it. So, let’s debate. Let’s debate now and let’s debate often,” Feuer said.

Feuer called for the first debate to focus on the homelessness crisis, a top issue for all the candidates.

De Leon announced his run last week and emphasized his own experience being housing insecure and sleeping in his car. The councilman introduced a plan in January, called the “A Way Home” initiative, to have the city develop a plan to create 25,000 new homeless housing units by 2025.

Feuer, who was the first to announce his campaign for mayor in March 2020, also emphasized homelessness and affordable housing as his top issues.

Feuer said the candidates should begin debating their agendas right away instead of waiting until 2022, when they will be competing for the public’s attention during statewide and federal elections.