7 things you need to know about Karen Bass, who is now Los Angeles’ 1st Black woman mayor

Abu Mubarik November 27, 2022
Karen Bass. Photo: Congress.gov

Karen Bass has become the first Black woman to be elected as mayor of Los Angeles. She saw off stiff competition from Rick Caruso, a billionaire real estate developer, who reportedly spent $100 million on his campaign. 

She emerged victorious with 53 percent of the vote after the contest remained “too close to call” for more than a week. She replaces Eric Garcetti, who was ineligible to seek re-election because of the city’s two-term limit.

“The people of Los Angeles have sent a clear message,” Bass said in a statement after her victory. “It is time for change and it is time for urgency.” Her goal as mayor is to soothe the tension between communities in the city. She said that the main reason she ran was the “familiarity of the current civic unease.” As mayor, she will declare a state of emergency on homelessness and find housing for 17,000 homeless people in her first year, The New York Times reported. She will also make sure there are more police officers on the street.

Prior to being elected as a mayor, the former physician assistant and emergency room worker was re-elected to her sixth term representing the 37th Congressional District in November 2020. As a congress member, she has been serving on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs where she became the Chair of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Global Human Rights.

In addition, she serves on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, where she is active in working to craft sound criminal justice reform policies. In 2019 and 2020, she served as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

What is more, she is also credited with introducing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, the most transformative piece of policing legislation to ever pass in a chamber of Congress. 

Before going to Congress, Bass served in the California State Assembly. In 2008, she made history by becoming the first-ever African-American woman in U.S. history to serve as Speaker of any state legislature.

In the early 1990s,  she founded Community Coalition, known locally as CoCo, to “help transform the social and economic conditions in South Los Angeles that foster addiction, crime, violence and poverty by building a community institution that involves thousands in creating, influencing and changing public policy,” her bio says.

Bass married for six years in the 1980s, according to The New York Times. However, she and her ex-husband jointly raised their daughter with his four children. In 2006, she lost her biological daughter and son-in-law in an automobile accident, two years after Bass first was elected to public office. 

She is now the first Black woman and second Black person to be elected mayor of Los Angeles. Tom Bradley was the first Black mayor, from 1973 to 1993.

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