Rep. Karen Bass and Rick Caruso will advance to the Los Angeles mayoral race this fall after taking the first two spots in Tuesday’s unbiased primary, setting the stage for a heated battle over the direction of a city at a key inflection point.
The candidates, both candidate and Democrat, defeated 10 other mayors, including city councilor Kevin de León and activist Gina Viola.
Bass, a community organizer who has represented Los Angeles in the U.S. House of Representatives for more than a decade, and Caruso, a billionaire real estate developer who has served on several government committees, will both try to sell Angelenos in November because they are willing to take on the city. to grab. seemingly insurmountable homelessness crisis, a recent surge in violent crime and the politics of a COVID-19 pandemic that just won’t go away.
One of them will replace Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is being forced to leave by term limits and hopes to be confirmed as the next ambassador to India.
Bass, one of the country’s prominent black female politicians who was a finalist on President Joe Biden’s shortlist of running mates, represents the liberal Democratic establishment in many ways but has promised innovation in solving LA’s homelessness crisis, one of its most serious. in the country. That includes using her connections in Washington to get my hands on more federal housing vouchers and addressing the policy failures that left people homeless in the first place, she said.
Housing activists say Bass is uniquely qualified to help the city’s homeless population, which consists of more than 40,000. While working as a physician assistant in the 1980s, Bass began organizing a response to the crack epidemic in South Los Angeles, successfully raising millions of government funding to help communities affected by the crisis. In her campaign for mayor, she has vowed to devote resources to those struggling with addiction, mental illness and homelessness, rather than persecuting them.
But Bass’s plan to deploy hundreds of new police officers has fueled tensions between her and the city’s more progressive wing, including leaders in the Black Lives Matter movement.
She says she plans to host 15,000 people in her first year in office if elected.
“If you tell me you want to build homes for the homeless, you go to the front lines,” Bass said in April. “You shouldn’t stand in line with someone who builds luxury homes. In my opinion, we no longer need luxury homes in the Los Angeles area.”
That’s a not-so-subtle dig at Caruso, which made a name for itself developing high-end shopping centers and planned residential communities. This isn’t his first introduction to government: he has served as a commissioner for the city’s department of water and energy, a member of the city’s coliseum commission, and chairman of the city’s council of police commissioners.
Caruso, who was registered as a Republican three years ago and only registered as a Democrat just before announcing his mayoral campaign, often praised the city’s 30% drop in crime when he headed the police commission in the early 2000s. While critics say he exaggerates his role in the era’s declining crime rates, his position has resonated with many voters, who catapulted him to prominence in the weeks leading up to the primaries.
Spending more than $30 million to flood the airwaves with ads certainly didn’t hurt him, either. That staggering amount is more than ten times the total spend for the entire Bass campaign.
In his promises to voters, Caruso says he hopes to deploy about 1,500 new police officers and build 30,000 new shelters within a year.
“I’m going to make LA more livable,” Caruso recently told The New York Times. “We will have cleaner streets and better parks, and we will have less crime. And you will be able to go for a walk and not worry about it.”
He has gained the support of some vocal celebrities including Kim Kardashian, Gwyneth Paltrow and Snoop Dogg. Bass, meanwhile, can boast recommendations from Ariana Grande, Shonda Rhimes and Steven Spielberg.
The two will face each other in the general election on November 8.