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Bass Aims to Be First African-American Woman to Lead City of Los Angeles

By Manny Otiko , IVN 

Los Angeles, CA — If Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) becomes the next Los Angeles mayor, she’ll be only the second African-American and the first African-American woman to hold that position. If Bass wins the race, it will be the last step in a long political career that has taken her from local politics to the state and national level.   

Bass, who is a child of civil rights activists, first got her start about 30 years ago in local politics. A physician’s assistant, Bass worked as a social worker and became active in the community in the middle of the crack epidemic of the 1990s.  

“In 1990, in response to the crack-cocaine and gang violence crisis that was gripping Los Angeles, Karen founded Community Coalition, a community-based social justice organization in South L.A. that empowers the African-American and Latino community across generations to address substance abuse, poverty and crime in South Los Angeles. Through her leadership at Community Coalition, Karen worked to engage community residents in addressing the root causes of injustice,” according to her campaign website.  

Bass eventually ran for a seat in the California Assembly and eventually worked her way up to speaker. She later ran for an office at the federal level representing a district in Los Angeles. She is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and was briefly mentioned as a potential vice-presidential candidate for Joe Biden when he was running in 2020. Biden had said that he wanted to make sure the position was taken by a woman of color and eventually selected then Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate.  

Bass faces a crowded race to be leader of America’s second-largest city. According to an NBC News article, Bass is running against diverse candidates that include a Latino, an Italian-American, a Jewish-American and an African-American man.  

However, one of the downsides to Bass as a political candidate is that she has been described as non-flashy. She prefers  

to let her work speak for itself. And that might be one of the reasons why she was passed over for the vice presidential position.  

“I’ve spent my entire life bringing groups of people together in coalitions to solve complex problems and produce concrete change, especially in times of crisis,” said Bass in a press statement.  

Earl Ofari Hutchinson, a Los Angeles-based community activist and writer, recently hosted Bass at his Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable.  

According to Hutchinson, Bass is an impressive political candidate.  

“The major area of discussion at our breakfast meeting with Congresswoman Karen Bass was transparency and accountability in government, particularly with the recent seeming ongoing corruption scandals involving L.A .city councilpersons and other officials. Bass pledged that her administration would stress open government and accountability,” he said.  

Hutchinson added, “Bass as the candidate from outside L.A.’s traditional insular political circles can be the breath of fresh air L.A. badly needs given the corruption, cronyism, backroom opaque dealing of L.A. officials.  If she sticks to her pledge of open  government, open books, and open meetings to rid the city of cronyism and corruption and the giveaway to moneyed corporate interests and developers this would be a major sea change in L.A. politics.”  

He also said that Bass had made fixing the homeless situation one of her major policy issues.  

Inland Valley News coverage of local news in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support minority-owned-and-operated community newspapers across California.

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