Democratic U.S. Rep. Karen Bass has been elected to be the next mayor of Los Angeles, California, beating billionaire developer Rick Caruso.
Bass, 69, is the first Black woman to hold the post. Her win comes as the city grapples with an out-of-control homeless crisis, rising crime rates and multiple scandals that have shaken trust in government.
“Now, it’s time to get to work and move our city in a new direction. It’s time to house people immediately, increase safety and opportunity in every neighborhood, and create a new standard of ethics and accountability at City Hall,” Bass said in a statement.
The Los Angeles County Democratic Party (LACDP) Chair Mark J. Gonzalez said Bass’s victory “sends a clear message about the kind of Los Angeles we want and see for ourselves.”
“We’ve always said this race is about the soul of Los Angeles and voters clearly spoke up to reject an attempt to buy this race,” he said. “I’m thrilled to congratulate Mayor-elect Karen Bass and know she and her team will quickly dive in with the kind of vision we need to keep progressing toward a future of inclusivity, equity and purpose.”
With more than 70% of the vote tallied, Bass had amassed an insurmountable lead of nearly 47,000 votes. She had 53.1%, with Caruso notching 46.9%.
Caruso conceded later Wednesday, saying that, although he lost, his campaign highlighted major issues like homelessness and the “deep-seated corruption and built-in mechanisms that foster that corruption.”
“We never wavered in our support for our first responders, the brave men and women of the LAPD, LAFD, and other law enforcement agent cries who constantly amaze our communities with their courage, acts of heroism, and service,” Caruso said in an email to his supporters. “Most of all, we never stopped believing that local government can and should be a force for good, a force that levels the playing field for everyone, a source of pride and inspiration that helps families achieve the American dream.”
Bass overcame more than $100 million in spending by the billionaire Caruso’s campaign while arguing that she would be a coalition builder who could heal a troubled city of nearly 4 million.
Caruso, a former Republican who switched parties shortly before entering the race, had represented a turn to the political right. He argued that Bass and other longtime politicians were part of the problem who led Los Angeles into multiple crises. He promised to expand the police department to deal with rising crime rates and quickly get ubiquitous homeless encampments off the streets.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.