There are moments in time that call for a certain candidate to take center stage. For too many voters right now, disgruntled by a rise in certain kinds of crime and an ongoing homelessness crisis, that candidate is the warmed-over version of Richard Riordan known as Rick Caruso. However, we feel the real profile in courage whose moment has come is Congresswoman Karen Bass, and we endorse her to be L.A.’s next mayor.
Caruso, until recently a lifelong Republican, has donated tens of thousands of dollars to anti-choice causes and organizations. He would have us believe that he, as a single Police Commission President, was the sole reason for a previous 30 percent drop in crime. A ridiculous overreach to say the least. And Caruso doesn’t give a damn about the homeless population he claims he can sweep away in just days. Caruso has no clue how to solve homelessness and is just spouting poll-driven solutions popular with the most disgruntled among us. The people that urged him to run for mayor just want “their” streets cleared in time for “their” Olympic Games.
We hope Bass can hit the airwaves and mount an aggressive advertising effort in the remaining weeks of the campaign to prevent Caruso from becoming dangerously close to locking up 50 percent plus one on June 7, which would prevent a November runoff.
Bass wasn’t born on third base like Caruso. She worked her way through nursing school and served a low-income and often homeless population in the emergency room. Later, she turned her concern for her community into founding Community Coalition, a South L.A.-based organization that promotes social justice and brings African Americans and Latinos together to collaborate on solutions to poverty, crime, and substance abuse in their neighborhoods. She eventually ran for the State Legislature, where she rose to the Speakership and helped guide California through the Great Recession. She has served in Congress for 12 years and chaired the Congressional Black Caucus during the hateful and bigoted Trump years.
She is a recognized leader in Foster Care, something important when you consider one-quarter of youth who age out of Foster Care end up unhoused. Her plan on homelessness includes ending street encampments, but is overall one that is comprehensive, more compassionate, and realistic. Unlike candidates who claim they’ll solve homelessness overnight, her promise is to house 15,000 Angelenos by the end of her first year.
Bass has caught flak from other progressives for her call to not only keep funding the L.A.P.D., but to also increase its ranks. Westside Voice very much believes in reimagining policing, but not all out defunding it. That’s why we like Bass. She does want to make changes, which include hiring more civilians to complete desk job work, bolstering de-escalation training of police officers, and increasing enforcement and penalties for hate crimes, among many other reforms. Bass understands that nothing prevents crime better than a good job that pays well enough to remain fed and housed. She’s also right in saying we can’t keep “arresting our way out of the problem,” and is dedicated to crime prevention techniques that work.
Bass’s time in Sacramento and in Washington is also a critical plus in her favor. Most of L.A.’s current problems will need a boost in the form of State and Federal funding – especially housing. Bass will make phone calls to the president and key members of congress that will get returned, and appeals for help to the governor and Democratic Legislature that will be far more eager to help her than Caruso. These relationships will also count in an emergency, be it the next pandemic, an earthquake, or additional relief for the next wave of fire damage.
There are other candidates we like. We now know City Attorney Mike Feuer has dropped out and endorsed Bass. We’ve always admired his integrity and commitment to service. It’s unfortunate that a few bad hiring decisions on his part, which resulted in a federal investigation of his office’s involvement with LADWP, clouded his otherwise impressive record as City Attorney. We do hope Feuer will find another high-profile outlet where he can continue making a difference. We also firmly believe there’s no better innovator than Councilmember Kevin de Leon, who, if not mayor, should certainly be the city’s Climate Crisis Czar. His knowledge of the environmental challenges we face and renewable energy is unmatched by any other candidate, including Bass. But he’ll be around a long time and Bass will need progressives like him in council chambers.
No, it’s Bass’s time and it’s a moment made for a woman whose professional training was literally in confronting emergencies. No amount of money or slick Rick Caruso advertising is going to convince us he’s the only human capable of saving us from ourselves and our civic malaise. He’s just another billionaire with some public record of service who wants to buy his way into a mayorship that will end up being a very center-right disappointment. Rick Caruso may give the wealthy donors to L.A.’s Olympic Committee the cleared out streets and militarized Olympic environment it wants. But we would much rather have Karen Bass passing the baton to the next host city. Don’t fall for this “Daddy State” tough talk to be our way out of homelessness and crime. Chose pragmatic compassion that will work. Bass will be a mayor for ALL of Los Angeles. It’s time for L.A.’s first female mayor. It’s time for Karen Bass (https://karenbass.com/).