Karen Bass, vowing to pursue unity, is sworn in as mayor of Los Angeles
At a time when American cities have been torn apart by crippling housing costs, contentious battles over policing and crime, and the ever-widening divide between haves and have-nots, Karen Bass embraced unity on Sunday night as that she was setting out to run Los Angeles.
Bass, a former House member representing Los Angeles, was inaugurated as the city’s 43rd mayor on Sunday night amid fanfare that included a swearing-in by Vice President Kamala Harris and performances by Stevie Wonder and Las Cafeteras, a Chicano band from East LA that fuses Afro-Mexican sounds, roots music and migrant stories.
Bass is tasked with patching the cracks in the social contract in a city rocked by racist remarks uttered by a few members of the city council and witnessed by a union leader in a secret recording revealed in October. All have resigned except Kevin De León who, under pressure to leave his seat, had a physical confrontation on Thursday with an activist who is currently under police investigation.
The city’s homelessness crisis, both an incubator for street crime and a corollary of soaring housing prices, touches nearly every facet of life in Los Angeles, even when it’s not than a backdrop.
Bass vowed Sunday to attack it head-on by declaring a citywide state of emergency, an idea that has been floating around City Hall since at least 2015.
The problem, fueled by out-of-reach housing costs caused in part by rollover and speculation and absentee real estate investors, is bigger than LA Squalid encampments can be found from the US-Mexico border north to Sacramento and all other major cities across America.
But Bass, at least, quickly focused on new housing.
“We know our mission,” Bass said. “We have to build housing in every neighborhood.”
On Sunday, she became the first woman to lead the city and the second black American, after Tom Bradley’s 20-year tenure in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, to do so.
In November, she defeated promoter Rick Caruso, known for his successful malls, including the ultra-popular Grove, and his impeccable suits, in a runoff to replace incumbent Democrat Eric Garcetti. Caruso is a former Republican from a heavily Democratic, pro-labor city. He spent $100 million of his own money fleeing.
Bass, 69, spoke of shared vision on Sunday.
“If we come together and focus on solutions rather than competence and on joining arms rather than pointing fingers, we will save lives in our city,” she said in a video address after his investiture.
“It’s my mission as your mayor,” she said.
Garcetti, a white man of Mexican, Italian and Jewish descent, has tried to please important interest groups in the city, including Hollywood, homeowners associations and organizations that represent Los Angeles’ incredibly large ethnic enclaves.
Bass promises a new day and inspires Los Angeles goalies to forget the feuds, at least for a while.
“In our city’s 241-year history, we have never seen a day like today as Los Angeles came together to celebrate the swearing-in of Mayor Karen Bass,” said Democratic Party Chairman Mark Gonzalez. of Los Angeles County, in a statement. statement.
Amanda Gorman, the nation’s first National Young Poet Laureate, explained the moment during Sunday’s ceremony and celebration.
“Where there is will, there are women,” she said. “And where there are women, there is always a way.”
Courtney Brogle and Eric Mendoza contributed.