On Sunday, December 11, former U.S. Congressional Representative Karen Bass was sworn in as the 43rd mayor of Los Angeles – the first woman ever to hold the job, and only the second Black person.
In a gala celebration that included City Council President Paul Krekorian swearing in all 15 Los Angeles City Councilmembers, along with newly-elected City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto and City Controller Kenneth Mejia, there were also a number of musical and poetry performances (including National Youth Poet Laureate Amada Gorman, and R&B legend Stevie Wonder performing his classic “Living for the City”). The program culminated with Bass being sworn in by United States Vice President Kamala Harris, who concluded the oath of office by welcoming “Madame Mayor” with a handshake and cheers from the gathered crowd.
“Today is a monumental moment in my life and in Los Angeles,” said Bass in her remarks after being sworn in, referring not only to her own administration, but this year’s increased numbers of women in state government, and the all-female LA County Board of Supervisors. “We’re gonna make so much history together in a state…that has enshrined in our constitution a woman’s right to decide.”
“I know that we can do big things together,” she said. “I know that we can.”
While formally taking the reins of city leadership, Bass thanked outgoing LA Mayor Eric Garcetti for his leadership in transit, cleaner air, and the coming of the 2028 Olympics. She also expressed appreciation for several of her former U.S. Congress colleagues in the audience, other supportive city officials, and the long-time support of her family, including her parents and grandparents, whom she said taught her compassion, kindness, critical thinking, awareness of national and international events, and that she should do whatever she could to change the world.
Bass also described Los Angeles as being at an “inflection point” right now, facing the challenges and changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy, climate change, the soaring cost of living, and more than 40,000 people sleeping on our streets. Bass said that inflection calls for “reflection,” as she recalled a time when her grandfather worked for the U.S. Postal Service and was able to support a family of six on his salary. She said that like her forbears, “We never give up – that’s our LA magic” and she said, “our task is not just to make that magic, but to make sure it’s sprinkled across every neighborhood, and available to every family, like it was to my family when I was growing up.”
Bass’ remarks also included similar optimism about addressing big issues like neighborhood safety, creating a cleaner environment, and improving the reliability of city services. But she saved her most hopeful messages for the biggest current crisis facing the city – homelessness.
“Tomorrow morning,” Bass said, “I will start my first day as mayor at the City’s Emergency Operations Centers, where my first act as mayor will be to declare a state of emergency on homelessness…My emergency declaration will recognize the severity of our crisis and break new ground to maximize our ability to urgently move people inside and to do so for good.” [Note: Bass made good on that promise this morning, with a declaration giving her “the power to lift rules and regulations that slow or prevent the building of permanent and temporary housing for the unhoused; to expedite contracts that prioritize bringing unhoused Angelenos inside; and that allow the city to acquire rooms, properties and land for housing for Angelenos in need.”]
Bass said, however, that she won’t be able to solve the problem alone, and she invited other officials and agencies, from across the city and beyond, to “join arms with me” and “look for me on your caller ID.”
Together, she said, “We will save lives. And this is my mission as your mayor.”
Finally, Bass also emphasized that there will be roles for everyone in the coming work, and everyone will be welcome.
“So please join me in this effort. A city where people are housed and tents are gone. A city where people are comfortable walking and shopping in all neighborhoods and at all hours. A city where murals replace graffiti, and a city most important, where we lock arms with each other until we get the job done. That’s the reality that we can build in Los Angeles. So let’s come together and build it together. Thank you, Los Angeles. Thank you for the opportunity. Thank you for the trust. I am honored. Thank you.”
About Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and is the co-owner/publisher of the Buzz.
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