Los Angeles’ Next Mayor Is a First

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US Rep. Karen Bass defeated developer Rick Caruso to become the next mayor of Los Angeles on Wednesday, making her the first Black woman to hold the post as City Hall contends with an out-of-control homeless crisis, rising crime rates, and multiple scandals that have shaken trust in government. With more than 70% of the vote tallied, Bass had amassed an insurmountable lead of nearly 47,000 votes, the AP reports. She had 53.1%, with Caruso notching 46.9%. Bass was working in her congressional office in Los Angeles when she was informed by an aide she had won the race.

“We are in a fight for the soul of our city,” Bass said at an election night rally. “We are going to build a new Los Angeles.” A Democrat who was on President-elect Biden’s short list for vice president, Bass overcame more than $100 million in spending by billionaire Caruso’s campaign while arguing that she would be a coalition builder who could heal the troubled city of nearly 4 million. The election tested whether voters in the heavily Democratic city were willing to turn away from their liberal tendencies and embrace an approach that would place a strong emphasis on public safety. Bass will succeed Democrat Eric Garcetti.

Caruso, a former Republican who became a Democrat shortly before entering the race, had represented a turn to the political right. He argued that Bass and other longtime politicians were part of the problem as the city confronted multiple crises. Caruso promised to expand the police department to deal with rising crime rates and quickly get ubiquitous homeless encampments off the streets. Bass, a former state Assembly leader, had the advantage of being a lifelong Democrat in a city where Republicans are almost invisible. She was backed by Biden and the Democratic establishment. She will become the first woman and second Black person to hold the job, after former Mayor Tom Bradley, who held the post from 1973 to 1993.

(Read more Election 2022 stories.)

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