Los Angeles elects U.S. Rep. Karen Bass mayor; first Black woman in post
U.S. Rep. Karen Bass was elected mayor of Los Angeles by a wide margin Tuesday over former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Bass, a Democrat, was backed by a coalition of labor unions, the city’s African Americans, civil rights leaders and progressive activists. Bass vowed in her concession speech to continue fighting for equal funding for programs to help the homeless, combat gun violence, combat the opioid epidemic and address inequality.
Bass said the challenges the area faces are the result of decades of discrimination.
Villaraigosa, who is white, lost the Democratic primary by only 44 votes. He won the election three years ago to replace the retiring Sam Yorty but was defeated in November’s general election.
“I was not prepared to be so close, but so many of you have supported me, and I want you to know my gratitude,” Villaraigosa told supporters and well-wishers at a victory party at the Los Angeles Convention Center. “I want you to know I am humbled and deeply grateful.”
U.S. Rep. Debbie Riddle said it would “take us years to heal and recover from the pain” of the election.
As the city elects its first African American woman mayor in modern times, the race was the most diverse to have ever held elective office in Los Angeles. More than half the mayoral ballots were cast by women, a quarter by people of color, and more than a third were in support of the openly gay, bisexual and transgender candidates.
Vallaraigosa, a Democrat, began his political career after graduating from the University of Southern California with a degree in politics, serving as a city councilman there and later on the City Council in Los Angeles County until his election to a City Council term. He was elected mayor in 2006 after serving as a councilman for two decades. He defeated challenger Antonio Villaraigosa, a former state assemblyman who ran as a Democrat and a lifelong resident of the region.
“I am humbled and deeply grateful for the support of my fellow Los Angelinos, especially our city’s most dedicated public servants,