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Karen Bass, First Woman To Serve As Mayor of Los Angeles: ‘We Will Get Big Things Done’

Karen Bass has been elected Mayor of Los Angeles after a contentious battle with her opponent, Rick Caruso, a billionaire who spent $100 million of his own money during the campaign. Bass, a six-term congresswoman, connected with voters by reminding them of her lifelong dedication to the city of 4 million people.

As a congresswoman, Bass represented South and West Los Angeles and utilized her longtime relationships with those communities — namely, Black voters on the south side of Los Angeles and progressive white voters on the west side — to bolster what started as a grassroots campaign with a fraction of the funding of Caruso’s campaign.

On the campaign trail, Bass reminded voters of her work with Black and Latino organizers in the 90s, her fight to uncover and address the root causes of drug addiction and crime in LA, and the nonprofit she founded in 1990, Community Coalition.

Bass also made a point of mentioning her work before serving as a congresswoman, when she was a physicians’ assistant in LA County. “I have a background in the medical field. I’ve worked with these patients,” she said to CNN. “I spent several years in the emergency room at (LA) county. My patients were homeless. My patients were mentally ill. They had substance abuse. I know these systems.”

On the campaign trail, she lambasted Caruso for registering as a Democrat to curry favor with Los Angelenos, noting his history as a longtime Republican and multiple campaign donations he had made to Republican candidates in the past.

As mayor, Bass promises to address the pressing needs of the city, including homelessness, rising crime rates, the opioid epidemic, and the lack of affordable housing citywide. In a statement posted to Twitter, she wrote, “I know, if we come together, hold each other accountable, and focus on the best of who we are and what we can achieve, we can create better neighborhoods today and a better future for our children.”

Bass also noted that she had “received a gracious call from Rick Caruso” and that she hopes he continues his “civic participation” in the future. By election day, Caruso had spent nearly $105 million while Bass’ campaign spent just over $9 million, less than 10% of the cash available to Caruso’s campaign.

In his concession statement, Caruso wrote, “I’m proud of the work we did to engage long-neglected communities, giving a voice to the unheard, and to the light we shined on the biggest challenges facing our great city.” He continued, “There will be more to come from the movement we built, but for now, as a city we need to unite around Mayor-elect Bass and give her the support she needs to tackle the many issues we face.”

Bass will officially assume the mayoral office on December 12 of this year.

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