Karen Bass becomes mayor of Los Angeles

Bass’ victory makes her L.A.’s first female mayor.

A photo of Karen Bass at an election night party.

Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., is the mayor-elect of Los Angeles, according to the Associated Press’ race call on Wednesday. She will be the first female mayor of Los Angeles following her defeat of businessman Rick Caruso.

With more than two-thirds of votes counted, Bass is ahead with 53.1% of the votes, while Caruso received 46.9%. Her growing lead assures her of victory by AP’s count, making her the second Black mayor of Los Angeles since Tom Bradley who held the position from 1973 to 1993.

USC students weighed in with their thoughts on the results.

“As a woman, it’s very inspiring to see another woman hold a position of power, especially in such a large city,” said Hanah Abualhaj, a junior majoring in communication. “I think she serves as a good role model, especially to young girls. Also, just as a woman of color, it’s great to see her step into that role.”

The midterm turnout of young people under 30 was the second highest it had been in three decades, outranked only by the 2018 midterm elections after Donald Trump’s 2020 win. More than a quarter of young people between ages 18 and 29 voted in the 2022 midterm election, according to a research study from Tufts University. Young people accounted for 12% of the votes of the entire election.

While the percentage is relatively lower compared to other age groups, the youth vote did not drop off as Democrats feared.

Hudi Potash, a junior studying public policy who voted for Karen Bass, said he found it easy to vote in California and registered the same day.

Sasha Hussain, the vice president of the Trojan Democrats and a junior majoring in health and human sciences, said that because it is less difficult to vote in California than in some other states, people should be motivated to vote consistently.

“I think it’s really amazing that we had a large turnout of younger voters, especially since we are the ones that laws will be affecting not only tomorrow but far into the future,” Abualhaj said. “I’m very glad to see that people my age are taking the initiative to make the changes that they want to see happen.”

Bass was a congresswoman for over a decade before her mayoral campaign. During that time, she focused on pandemic relief, housing programs, small businesses, criminal justice, child welfare and trade with Africa, according to her campaign.

Her campaign for mayor ran on a platform of accessible healthcare, affordable housing and improving the unhoused crisis. Bass was endorsed by other prominent Democratic politicians, including former President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“The people of Los Angeles have sent a clear message: it is time for change and it is time for urgency,” Bass said in a statement Wednesday evening after the race was called.

In the statement, Bass promised to solve the unhoused crisis, to prevent crime and fix the response time to crime, and to make living in Los Angeles affordable for working-class families, adding that these changes are “on the way.”

Potash is optimistic about Bass’ promise to solve the crisis of the unhoused community in Los Angeles.

“I think because of Karen Bass’ political will and political connections, she is able to work with other actors in the space to really make a change,” Potash said about Bass’ future actions within the unhoused community.

Bass’ platform addressed the crisis through its direct causes, which her campaign notes as: “lack of affordable housing, health care, access to job opportunities and residential alcohol and drug treatment.”

“I ran for mayor to urgently confront the crises our hometown faces,” Bass said on Wednesday. “Tonight, 40,000 Angelenos will sleep without a home – and five will not wake up. Crime is increasing and families are being priced out of their neighborhoods. This must change.”

Hussain is hopeful about Bass’ promise to help Los Angeles’ crime.

“As a representative for the House, [Bass] brought the Crime and Policing Act into Congress,” Hussain said. “We’ve seen her actually implement it at the national level. Because she already has this experience, I think she can also bring this to the mayoral level and it will have more impact compared to the national level.”

Bass’ opponent, Caruso, called her after her win.

“There will be more to come from the movement we built, but for now, as a city we need to unite around Mayor-elect Bass and give her the support she needs to tackle the many issues we face,” Caruso said in a concession statement according to the LA Times.

However, electing Bass as mayor is just the first step for Hussain.

“Our job is not finished,” Hussain said. “We also have to hold her accountable to finish those promises.”