Our Weekly stands with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Cory Booker, the California Legislative Black Caucus and the Sierra Club in endorsing Rep. Karen Bass (CA-37) for mayor of the City of Los Angeles. To this publication, the choice is clear between a billionaire versus an experienced community leader.

On Wednesday, Bass joined President Joe Biden, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), and the families of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the White House for the signing of an executive order that establishes new rules and regulations for federal law enforcement officers.

Bass successfully led the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in the House of Representatives twice, however, it later stalled in the Senate. Bass and Booker then requested the Biden Administration develop an executive order to address the issue. 

After working closely with the White House, an executive order was finalized to establish new rules and regulations for federal law enforcement officers which will improve transparency and accountability in policing. Bass believes of this important executive order is a huge step forward.

“I refused to take no for an answer,” said Bass. “Just like my friend and colleague Congressman John Lewis used to say—you have to make a way out of no way. When I saw that the Senate was refusing to act, we went straight to the White House to ensure that action would be taken to address police reform. We honor this day with action marking two years after the murder of George Floyd.”

The executive order is the latest in a series of accomplishments by Bass to make Los Angeles safer, including securing millions of dollars directly appropriated to California’s 37th District to prevent crime and address homelessness.

Bass’ nearest competitor in the mayoral race, Rick Caruso, has spent millions of dollars to introduce himself to Angeleno voters via TV ads. This tactic has enabled him to gain ground and tie Bass, according to the polls.

“I’ve seen many polls recently,” Bass said during a zoom call hosted by the Heart of Los Angeles Democratic Club. “Caruso caught up to me, but he is still nowhere near 50 percent. Both of us are running in the 30s. He is attempting to create an illusion that he can win in June.”

Any candidate on the June 7 ballot may win the election outright by securing more than 50 percent of the vote. If no candidate meets that threshold, the top two vote getters, regardless of party affiliation, will run against each other in the general election on Nov. 8. 

Background

Bass, 69, has represented the 37th U.S. Congressional District (Mid City, Westwood, Exposition Park, Baldwin Hills) for six terms. Before that, she was elected Speaker of the California State Assembly in 2008, making her the first Black woman in U.S. history to lead a state legislative body. 

Earlier, she founded the Community Coalition and the National Foster Youth Institute, both in Los Angeles.

Her endorsements include the California Legislative Black Caucus; United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA); the California Nurses Association; the Stonewall Democratic Club and the Los Angeles Times.

During the zoom call, Bass, who has represented the 37th District since 2011, addressed her opponents’ recent negative commercials. She noted that the ad sponsored by the Police Protective League is particularly surprising, as she consulted with the league when she was working on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in Congress.

“This is just an attempt to muddy me up,” she said, noting that the group should be spending union dues on improving relations with the communities they serve instead of “attempting to link me to something I had no connection to.”

Another false ad Bass said, noted the rise in homeless numbers while she was in Congress. Bass said those numbers were recorded during the country’s recession and contrary to the ad “We have been successful in bringing millions of dollars to the LA area.” 

Bass noted the expansion of the Operation Room Key and Home Key programs for the unhoused that was assisted by the legislative leadership in D.C. and Sacramento. 

“When you see the tiny homes and rented buildings for the homeless … know that those are funds from Congress,” she said. “We worked for them.”

Other issues

During an earlier interview, Bass was asked if the LAPD should be reconstructed.

“I have two plans for public safety,” Bass said, noting that she does not support defunding the department. “One does call on the hiring of some 200 to 400 officers. The city budget calls for 9,700 officers, but on any given month it is down by 200 officers because of attrition. We need to hire an amount, up to what we’re budgeted for.” 

Bass believes in reducing the city’s reliance on the LAPD. Her second plan mentions supporting community-based prevention strategies. Those civilians will use a public health approach to violence prevention and crime reduction and address the foundational problems that cause both: joblessness, income inequality, lack of education, mental health issues and untreated substance abuse. 

“But some communities do want to have an increased visibility of officers,” she said. “We could hire those now on civil desk duty to be back on the street.”

At this week’s LA World Affairs Council and Town Hall’s “Meet Karen Bass” event, the host made mention that Bass received the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for leading California out of the 2009 financial crisis.

The award recognized that she stood up to the “extraordinary constituent and party pressure faced while working with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to address California’s severe financial crisis.”

“I consider myself a constructive disrupter,” Bass said during the Town Hall, noting her experience in Sacramento. “My Republican colleagues, even though I’m a Democrat, as speaker, they’re all my colleagues, Democrats and Republicans. I had to convince Republicans to raise taxes. And in our partisan world, those Republicans that voted for taxes knew, when they hit that vote, they would never be elected to public office again. And getting people to make a decision like that, a life-changing decision, but they did it. They sacrificed their future in politics for the good of the state. That’s the way it should be.”

 The congresswoman believes in the power of collaboration, especially when it comes to the home affordability issue in the area of South LA she represents.

“Historical residents… their children have to live elsewhere,” she said. “South LA has become unaffordable.”

“The only way to deal with affordability is to increase the supply,” she said during the Town Hall. “Experts say that Los Angeles needs more than 500,000 more units of housing. And so the reason I don’t believe that this problem is going to be solved if you leave it just to politicians is because we need the whole city to come to grips with the fact that we have to make room for more people.”

She spoke to a group of teenagers before and during the gathering.

“By the time you finish high school and finish college, if you want to come back to Los Angeles, you’ll have a difficult time, because it will be very expensive,” Bass said. “So it’s my goal, to make sure that by the time you get out of college, if you want to come back to Los Angeles, that you could actually afford to live here.”

At the conclusion of the Town Hall, Bass took questions from the audience and one of them brought up this issue, citing “LA does not need one more luxury unit. Not one more.”

“If you want to talk about luxury developments, you’ll have to talk to my opponent,” Bass said. 

Bass noted that her opponent’s negative ads don’t phase her.

“Caruso affiliated with the democratic party a couple of weeks before filing,” Bass said of the other candidate. “Democrat is not a box that you check. It reflects values in life and what you’ve done in your life.” 

Additional endorsements

Rep. Adam Schiff (CA-28) agreed and endorsed the congresswoman’s campaign.

“The job of L.A. mayor is an extraordinarily difficult one, so you need someone to bring people together,” said Schiff. “We don’t need somebody who changes his political party for election reasons.”

Schiff added that Bass is a lifelong Democrat with a track record of community activism, unlike her competition.

“Mr. Caruso obviously is spending millions and millions to introduce himself to voters who don’t know him,” Schiff added. 

Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) added to the conversation about Caruso.

“Who is he really? A luxury real estate developer,” Chu said. “He is partially responsible for the affordability crisis that LA is seeing.”

Chu worked with Bass in the state assembly and also endorsed her campaign.

 “I’ve known Karen Bass for 20 years now,” Chu said. “One thing I can tell you is that she’s authentic. She doesn’t need to spend millions of dollars to tell you she’s an ordinary person.”

Chu added that Bass’ opponent has contributed thousands to anti-abortion efforts.

“Women should have a choice over their bodies,” she said. “And Caruso has said he’s a pro-life, conservative Catholic.” 

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) spoke to Bass’ experience.

“Karen doesn’t just talk the talk, she has a proven record of walking the walk,” Roybal-Allard said. “She is the only candidate who has the personal experience and knowledge of the state legislature and Congress of the United States.”

Rep. Ted Lieu (CA-33) was featured on the zoom call, too, and also worked with Bass in the state assembly.

“Karen has been a long time Democrat. She is in politics for all the right reasons, she wants to do good and help the people,” he said. “Government is not the same as a for-profit business. You know who tried to run the government like a business, former president Donald Trump.”

Schiff agreed, saying “Given the experience we had with electing a billionaire at the national level, I don’t think LA wants that.”

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