Since she announced her candidacy for congress, Los Angeles has been abuzz for Speaker Emeritus Karen Bass. So far she has raised $650,000 for her campaign and there are only a few months to go before her constituents vote.

For more than 30 years, Bass has been heavily involved with the local community and has not forgotten her roots in Los Angeles.

In 1990, Bass founded the Community Coalition in response to the growing drug and crime epidemic in impoverished ethnic communities, with the goal of trying to eliminate some of the ills.

She says that when she took notice of the problems in her community, she needed to do something about it. Although she is no longer on the executive board of the non-profit, she is still involved when the Coalition needs her. But her idea now is to take her attempts to problem solve beyond the community. First it was the state level in the Assembly.

Bass made history, when she was elected to become the 67th Speaker in the California Assembly.

She became the first African American woman to hold this position in the country.

Now she is running for Congress with the same goals in mind.

If she is sent to Washington, Bass is focusing on the same issues that have been her passion for years — foster care, drugs and crime in the community, and foreign policy as it relates to Africa.

“I want to work on the issues that I have been working on for the past 30 years,” she said. “Twenty years ago I was very much involved in the anti-apartheid movement, and I would like to be very much involved in foreign policy as it relates to the Continent.”

Congresswoman Diane Watson approached Bass when she was on the brink of retirement, inquiring if she would be open to running for the seat. Bass said that this was the perfect opportunity to make a move.

“I became interested because at this particular moment in history, with Barack Obama in the White House … I (thought) it was an opportunity to make a difference on the issues I’ve been working on for years,” she said. So with the support of Watson and many in the community on her side, Bass is taking this bull by the horns.

When politicians leave their local constituents, there is always that fear of being forgotten. Bass is adamant about keeping a local presence, and will return to her hometown every weekend, just as she has been doing since her time in Sacramento. She is also working with her staff to either establish a people’s council in the 33rd (an opportunity for community members to discuss their issues with the office of Karen Bass) or to create a grassroots opportunity to keep the community connected to her.

During her campaign, criticisms were published about her missing days and giving raises when she termed out. Several publications accused her of missing at least 60 days of Assembly session for the sake of her campaign.

“I think (the criticism) reflected a lack of understanding of what happens in the legislative process when someone steps down from the speakership. So when you are Speaker, you don’t serve. I rarely missed session, but we are not in session everyday. So it is not unusual at all for a former speaker to be in the district when they step down from the speakership. So, I think it reflected a misunderstanding of legislative calendar and the legislative process.”

When asked about the raises she refused to comment.

For more information about Bass, visit karenbass.com.