Karen Bass sworn in as first female mayor of Los Angeles

Karen Bass, mayor of Los Angeles, California, is sworn-in by Vice President Kamala Harris during an inaugural ceremony in Los Angeles on Sunday. Photo by Eric Thayer/UPI
1 of 6 | Karen Bass, mayor of Los Angeles, California, is sworn-in by Vice President Kamala Harris during an inaugural ceremony in Los Angeles on Sunday. Photo by Eric Thayer/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Karen Bass was sworn in as the 43rd mayor of Los Angeles on Sunday, making her the first woman to lead the United States' second most populated city of some 4 million people.

Vice President Kamala Harris swore in Bass, a Democrat, during a ceremony held at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles.


During her first speech as mayor before Harris, second gentleman Doug Emhoff, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and a slew of other local and national politicians, Bass said making history with them on Sunday was a "monumental moment in my life and in Los Angeles."

Bass, a former House representative, won the city's highest office last month by beating billionaire businessman Rick Caruso, also a Democrat, in a tight race for the seat left vacant by Eric Garcetti following his nomination by President Joe Biden to be U.S. ambassador to India.


On Sunday, Bass said the city elected her during an "inflection point in our history."

"Just think: A pandemic, a rapidly changing economy, a rapidly changing climate, the cost of living and in Los Angeles 40,000 people sleeping on the street everyday," she said. "I believe that times of inflection require times of reflection and I believe it's time for Angelenos to remind ourselves where we come from and who we are."

"When I think of unaffordability, the difficulty, the struggle that working people face today in Los Angeles, I reflect on the challenges Angelenos have faced across our history," she continued. "I reflect on the fact that no matter what we never give up, we have never given up and that's our L.A. magic.

"L.A. magic is still here."

While campaigning, the 69-year-old politician said her first plan of action on taking office would be to declare a state of emergency on homelessness as the city has been struck by an increase in its unhoused population.

According to a report in September from the Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority, a survey conducted over three nights in February estimated that more than 69,000 people were experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County at any given time, with nearly 42,000 counted in Los Angeles City, an increase of nearly 2% from 2020.


The increase indicates a slowing in the growth of homelessness but follows the city's 32% surge from 2018.

Bass said during her speech that the state of emergency will be declared on Monday morning as her first action and that it will recognize the severity of the homeless crisis and "break new ground" on maximizing resources to move people off the streets and inside "for good."

"It will create the structure necessary for us to have a true, unified and city-wide strategy to set us on the path to solve homelessness," she said. "And [if] we're going to bring Angelenos inside and move our city in a new direction, we must have a single strategy to unite our city and county and engage the state, the federal government, the private sector and every other stake holder."

She also remarked on the over crowding of Los Angeles neighborhoods, stating some hold the "shameful crown" as being among the most crowded in the nation.

She said they know their mission, which is to build housing in every neighborhood. The best way for this to occur, she said, is for neighbors working together to decide where the new units will go.

"Los Angeles, we just can not continue to overcrowd neighborhoods that are already overcrowded," she said. "So, this is my call to Los Angeles to welcome housing in every neighborhood."


In a statement on Sunday, Harris remarked that it was a privilege to have sworn Bass, a longtime friend, in as mayor.

"I've seen her commitment to public service up close in Congress and I know she will serve the people of this great city with honor."

A forecast of rain of Sunday had moved the ceremony from the steps of City Hall to the Microsoft Theater, where the program included performances by Stevie Wonder, Mary Mary and Chloe Bailey, among others.

Latest Headlines