In her first address as mayor-elect of Los Angeles, Karen Bass on Thursday thanked Angelenos and vowed to tackle the “big things” like homelessness and crime as the new leader of California’s largest city.
“No matter who you voted for, no matter who you are or where you live, I will be a mayor for you,” Bass said. “The crisis we face affects us all, and all of us must be part of the solution.”
Bass, who represents the California’s 37th Congressional District, will become the first woman to be elected mayor of Los Angeles and the second Black person to hold the position.
She defeated real estate developer Rick Caruso in what she called a “tough” and “long” campaign.
Bass inherits a city plagued by a growing homelessness crisis and a scandal that recently rocked City Hall, forcing the resignation of its council president.
“Tonight, 40,000 Angelenos will sleep without a home and five might not wake up. Many Angelenos do not feel safe in their neighborhoods and families are being priced out of their communities. This must change,” Bass said. “We’re going to solve homelessness, we’re going to respond urgently to crime and Los Angeles will no longer be unaffordable for working families. Good jobs and affordable housing are on the way.”
Bass called Los Angeles a “powerhouse” and touted some of the city’s advantages, including the ports and the entertainment industry, and added that residents “cannot settle” for rising homelessness and crime.
She stressed that it is time to move Los Angeles “in a different direction.”
“This is my home, and with my whole heart, I am ready to serve,” Bass said. “My pledge to you is that i will hit the ground running day one. Los Angeles is the greatest city on Earth and I know if we come together, if we hold each other accountable, if we focus on the best of who we are and the best that we can achieve, we will create better neighborhoods today and a better future for our children. To everyone who will our mission to move L.A. in a new direction, thank you and mark my words: we will get big things done together.”
The Associated Press called the race in Bass’ favor Wednesday afternoon after she led Caruso by 46,578 votes with 74% of ballots counted.
Caruso carried an overnight lead in the race right after polls closed a week ago, but Bass has since outpaced him and eventually overtook him.
Bass will replace Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is termed out and is awaiting confirmation as ambassador to India.
Bass said Caruso called her Wednesday to concede and that she hoped he will continue his “civic participation in the city that we both love.”
In his own statement, Caruso called the decision to run for mayor “one of the most rewarding experiences” of his life.
“We never stopped believing that local government can and should be a force for good, a force that levels the playing ground for everyone, a source of pride and inspiration that helps families achieve the American dream,” Caruso wrote on social media.
Before being elected to Congress in 2011, Bass served in the California Assembly and made history by becoming the first Black woman to serve as Speaker of any state legislature.
She grew up in the Fairfax area of Los Angeles and is a graduate of Cal State Dominguez Hills, the University of Southern California’s school of medicine physician assistant program and the USC masters program in social work, according to her congressional bio page.
She has worked as an activist in the community, a physician assistant and a clinical instructor.