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Karen Bass becomes first woman elected Los Angeles Mayor

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Karen Bass defeats Rick Caruso to become the first woman elected Los Angeles Mayor. File photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
Karen Bass defeats Rick Caruso to become the first woman elected Los Angeles Mayor. File photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Rep. Karen Bass. D-Calif., has been declared the winner in the race for Los Angeles mayor, defeating billionaire businessman Rick Caruso with vote-by-mail ballots and securing her victory as the first woman to lead the city in its 241-year history.

Bass, 69, held a strong 53.1% lead to Caruso's 46.9% with 74% of the ballots counted, according to the Los Angeles County Elections Office. While there are several thousand votes remaining, Bass' six-point lead on Wednesday is projected by CNN, NBC and the New York Times, to push her to victory. The Los Angeles County Clerk's office is expected to certify the results on Dec. 5.

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Both Bass and Caruso are Democrats after Caruso, a former Republican, switched parties. Bass defeated Caruso despite the real estate developer outspending her by more than 11 to 1 with $100 million of his own money.

In June, Bass beat Caruso during the crowded open primary by 7%. On election night, Caruso started with the lead, but the gap narrowed as mail-in ballots broke in favor of Bass.

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Bass, who is Black, was born in South Los Angeles and has spent her life in the Los Angeles area. She has served as the U.S. Representative for California's 37th District, which covers areas south and west of downtown Los Angeles, since 2011.

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Bass will replace Eric Garcetti as mayor of Los Angeles. Garcetti is leaving the office as his nomination as ambassador to India in the Biden administration remains stalled in the Senate.

As she takes over as mayor, Bass will face a large homelessness crisis and a city council entrenched in a controversy involving members making racist comments.

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Bass has said her first plan of action when she takes office is to declare a state of emergency on homelessness and to work to get the more than 41,000 people who sleep on the streets into housing and jobs, in addition to providing them with health care, alcohol and drug treatment.

"We're already rolling up our sleeves to launch urgent solutions for homelessness, crime and affordability," Bass tweeted one day after the election. "The people of L.A. sent a clear message last night. I am ready to answer their call."

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