USC Alumni Rep. Karen Bass announces 2022 candidacy for L.A. mayor

The congressional representative has changed sights from national to local politics.

A photo of Rep. Karen Bass smiling next to other people in a red suit jacket.

USC Alumni and former faculty member, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) announced that she will enter the 2022 race for mayor of Los Angeles in a statement Monday.

“With my whole heart, I’m ready. Let’s do this -- together. I’m running for mayor” announced Bass in a tweet Monday.

Bass’ announcement comes after weeks of rumors and statements from those close to Bass who said she was considering a run for mayor. However in early August, a spokesperson for Bass stated that she wasn’t considering running for the position and instead was looking to run for reelection for her House seat in 2022.

“Karen Bass loves our city, this is a woman whose heart really beats for the city,” Jamarah Hayner, Bass’ campaign manager, said in an interview with Annenberg TV News. “Bass is someone who will always jump in when there’s a crisis and she can be helpful.”

Bass, who represents South Los Angeles, including USC’s University Park Campus, Culver City and Inglewood, joins a complicated and crowded list of candidates to succeed Eric Garcetti who is in his final term as mayor of Los Angeles. President Biden has nominated Garcetti to serve as ambassador to India.

Bass, who graduated with a masters in social work from the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School, made it clear that her campaign’s focus is on dealing with Los Angeles’ homelessness situation.

“40,000 people sleep on the streets of LA every night – more than in any other city in the nation,” states Bass’ campaign website. “Karen is running for Mayor because she knows that solving this crisis means addressing the root causes of homelessness: lack of affordable housing, health care, job training, mental health services, and drug and alcohol counseling.”

“She’s going to have to explain what she would do differently,” said Robert Shrum, Warschaw Professor of Politics and Director of Dornsife Center for the Political Future at USC, in an interview with Annenberg Media. “How she would get to the point to get people off the streets and into permanent supportive housing? But looking at her as a member of congress, do I think she’s capable of getting big things and important things done? Yes.”

Bass, former head of the Congressional Black Caucus, would be the first elected female and second Black mayor in the city’s history. Thomas Bradley served as L.A.’s first, and only thus far, Black mayor from 1973 to 1993.

The six-term congress member will have to divide her time between the campaign and her responsibilities in Washington D.C. unless she resigns from the U.S. House of Representatives, according to the L.A. Times.

Bass has used her time in congress to push for political justice and prison reform. Bass also introduced the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in March 2021, which was co-sponsored by 199 other house representatives. Although it was passed twice by the U.S. House, the Senate failed to take the actions any further. Bass called on the White House to take further action on police reform in an interview with the L.A. Times last week.

Before her time in congress, Bass helped found the Community Coalition, a group created to address multiple crises in South L.A. Through the coalition, Bass worked to engage local residents in addressing the root causes of injustice, while raising awareness about addiction, crime, violence and poverty in the South L.A. community. She also organized numerous public policy campaigns to benefit and raise money for South L.A. communities.

Hours after Bass’ announced her candidacy, Mike Feuer, another mayoral candidate and current L.A. City Attorney, shared a press release that challenged all of the mayoral candidates to a debate about the homelessness situation.

“Voters deserve to know much more about who we are and what we stand for because in many ways their safety, livelihoods, and quality of life depend on it. So, let’s debate. Let’s debate now and let’s debate often,” Feuer said in the statement.