For some Los Angeles voters, a crowded mid-city space was a place of validation and reinvigorated focus Monday amid a scandal that has destroyed City Hall and fueled racial tensions ahead of the mayoral election.
US Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) was joined by Vice President Kamala Harris for a moderated discussion with Celinda Vázquez, Vice President of Public Affairs at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, about the fight for reproductive rights and the fears of women around the world invited the US and the country’s place on the international stage as a moral beacon.
An audience of at least 200 greeted the women with a standing ovation at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center as “Hail, Columbia,” the Vice President’s housewarming march, was played.
Bass and Harris hugged and heaped praise on each other — providing political support in a high-stakes election season after once being pitted against each other as possible vice presidential candidates.
“You and I have worked together for as many years as I have [California attorney general] and you’ve been to the Capitol, the state Capitol, and then Washington, DC,” Harris said of Bass, who is running against developer Rick Caruso in next month’s LA mayoral election. “You are a brave, fearless fighter on so many of these issues and particularly what you have done throughout your career to be a powerful voice for women, for children, for all communities and for the Coalition.”
According to Jasmine Hernandez, 21, Bass has a track record of fighting for people’s rights and standing up for unity – attributes made all the more important after leaked footage of then-LA City Council President Nury Martinez making racist statements made remarks.
The audio, which remained private for almost a year, broke the surface on Oct. 9, sending City Hall into an uproar and igniting tensions in black and brown communities across the city.
Martinez resigned from her seat days later, but Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León, the other two council members present at the wide-ranging call with Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera, have so far refused to step down , which led to further outrage .
Hernandez said she believes Bass can bridge that gap.
“So I’m really everything to her and I stand behind her. And I hope she wins,” she said while waiting for Harris, Bass and Vázquez to take the stage.
Though the mayor of Los Angeles may not have much leverage on the abortion issue, Hernandez said Bass’ advocacy was critical to abortion access.
“LA is one of the biggest cities in California and in the United States, and this is where there’s a really big opportunity for LA to lead,” she said. “Even though there are many decisions that she can take a stance on that she can’t necessarily influence directly, being a public figure, she can definitely influence people.”
And the leaked audio scandal is a reminder that not all Democrats are the same, Hernandez said — a point she believes applies in the mayoral race as well.
“Someone can be called a Democrat on paper, that doesn’t mean they have these honest conversations behind closed doors. And I think Karen Bass is definitely honest about the fact that she’s a Democrat and fighting for our rights behind closed doors, as opposed to someone who wants to run for mayor and just changes labels,” Hernandez said, referring to Caruso . who was previously a Republican and had “no party preference” before registering as a Democrat.
Emily Piñeda, 22, said she would like Bass to continue standing up for women, people of color and other marginalized communities as mayor.
She “was in LA in the real parts of it and not just the rich parts and has represented us for four decades,” Piñeda said.
Diana Chavez, 23, wanted “an update” from Harris on federal efforts to protect the nation’s reproductive rights.
“I am grateful that our California governor … has been able to provide services to our Californians,” Chavez said, but action has yet to be taken at the national level.
She intends to vote for Bass for mayor, telling The Times that Bass is “the only candidate who basically aligns with my values as a woman, my values as a woman of color.”
And she sees her decision to vote for Bass in November as a long-term investment in protecting access to abortion.
“Because later on, who knows who she might be walking with, or in the future she might be someone bigger,” Chavez said. “Maybe the next President of the United States?”
https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-10-17/karen-bass-kamala-harris-abortion-rights-discussion-los-angeles-mayor-race Kamala Harris praises Karen Bass in Los Angeles mayor’s race