U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) launched her campaign for Los Angeles mayor on Monday, telling Angelenos she’s in the race with her “whole heart” and ready to tackle the city’s homelessness epidemic.
“Our city is facing a public health, safety and economic crisis in homelessness that has evolved into a humanitarian emergency,” Bass said in a statement. “I’ve spent my entire life bringing groups of people together in coalitions to solve complex problems and produce concrete change — especially in times of crisis.”
She added: “With my whole heart, I’m ready. Let’s do this — together. I’m running for mayor.”
Bass, who served as state Assembly speaker before being elected to Congress, co-founded Community Coalition, a South L.A. nonprofit focused on social and economic issues.
She joins a field that includes City Atty. Mike Feuer, City Councilmen Kevin de León and Joe Buscaino, business leader Jessica Lall and real estate broker Mel Wilson.
Two others, real estate developer Rick Caruso and former L.A. Unified Supt. Austin Beutner, have been exploring a mayoral bid.
Bass’ spokesman, Zach Seidl, said Monday that she wasn’t available for an interview.
She signaled on her election website that homelessness would be a top campaign issue. Bass wrote that solving this crisis means “addressing the root causes of homelessness: lack of affordable housing, health care, job training, mental health services, and drug and alcohol counseling.”
Unless she resigns from Congress, Bass, 67, will need to divide her time between the campaign and her duties in Washington. She represents a district that includes all or parts of South Los Angeles, Mid-City, Culver City and Palms.
One of the last members of Congress to launch a bid for Los Angeles mayor was then-Rep. Xavier Becerra. He fared poorly in the 2001 primary, receiving 6% of the vote.
Bass’ entrance into the race was expected. In recent months, she told reporters that she was seriously considering a bid, while her supporters in Los Angeles — a diverse group that includes activists, City Hall politicians, and Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg — also talked up Bass for mayor.