Democrat Bass takes over as mayor of LA amid homelessness crisis

LOS ANGELES – Karen Ruth Bass, a former medical assistant who shattered glass ceilings with her rise to leadership in the California Legislature and later to a prominent seat in Congress, took a solemn oath of office as mayor of Los Angeles on Sunday.

Bass, a progressive Democrat, will become the first woman and second black person to hold the city’s top job and will officially assume her duties Monday multiple crises in the second largest city in the country.

She was sworn in by Vice President Kamala Harris, a longtime friend and former California Attorney General. The formal oath was taken privately by the town clerk.

Bass is tasked with curbing rising crime rates and restoring confidence to a shattered City Hall racism and corruption scandals and solving the problem of over 40,000 people living in garbage-strewn camps or rusting RVs that have spread to virtually every neighborhood.

Bass struck a tone of unity, saying that the many different arms of government must come together to confront homelessness.

To take a new direction, “we need to have a single strategy” that brings together government, the private sector and other stakeholders,” Bass said at a downtown theater near City Hall.

She said when people cross their arms instead of pointing fingers, lives are saved. She called it “my mission” as mayor.

She also urged residents to get involved in city government, echoing John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, in which he said, “Don’t ask what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” can do.”

“I challenge the people of our city not only to dream of the LA we want, but to help make that dream a reality,” Bass said.

Bass – who was on President-elect Joe Biden’s shortlist for vice president – claimed the post last month after overcoming it more than $100 million in spending from rival Rick Caruso, a billionaire developer turned Republican-turned-Democrat who fought as a centrist and pledged a heavy emphasis on public safety.

Caruso would have represented a turn to the right for the strongly democratic city. Bass swayed voters by arguing she would be a coalition builder to help heal a troubled city of nearly 4 million people.

“We will build a new Los Angeles,” Bass promised at a rally on election night.

A photo of a beaming bass was emblazoned on a marquee in front of the theater with the slogan “A New Day for Los Angeles.” The backdrop to the stage, crowned by US flags, was an oversized take of the steps and pillars of City Hall.

In a surprise performance, Stevie Wonder got the crowd dancing and performed “Living for the City.” He and Bass hugged.

Bass, 69, ran as a consensus pick of the Democratic establishment and was supported by Biden, former President Barack Obama and former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Despite her close ties to the Democratic political community, she has described herself as a change agent who plans to declare a state of emergency on her first day in office cope with homelessness. She has signaled that she will seek to mobilize “every resource, every skill, knowledge and talent in the city” to get homeless people into housing.

Details of the emergency order have yet to be released, although it has said it will put over 17,000 homeless people into shelters through a mix of temporary and permanent facilities in its first year.

She will also grapple with deep-rooted urban problems, including housing shortages, crumbling roads and some of the nation’s worst traffic flows.

“The mayor’s first priority, and probably the most important for some time, is homelessness,” said Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at California State University in Los Angeles.

“Voters don’t expect a miracle, but are looking for a clear and credible path to measurable and visible improvements,” said Sonenshein. “It’s an opportunity for a strong fresh start in a crisis that seemed deadlocked, and also a chance to restore confidence in local government in Los Angeles.”

She replaces ailing Democrat Eric Garcetti, who ends two rocky terms in office with his appointment as US ambassador to India stuck in the senate apparently over sexual misconduct allegations against a former top Garcetti adviser.

Bass takes office as the city council grapples with a racism scandal that resignation of the previous President and a powerful union leader, while a council member implicated in the scandal has resisted calls for his resignation. Meanwhile, three current or former Council members have been charged with corruption or have pleaded guilty.

Bass made history in the state assembly by becoming the first black woman to serve as speaker of a state legislature. She also served as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus in 2019 and 2020.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission. Democrat Bass takes over as mayor of LA amid homelessness crisis

Sarah Y. Kim

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