The L.A. Mayoral Race Is a Dead Heat Between an Ex-Republican Billionaire Shopping Mall Tycoon and a Career Politician

The sidewalks were crowded with people. Karen Bass was very happy and somewhat surprised to see them. “What makes it fun is that I really didn’t knock on many doors,” she told me. “People come out of the house and come see me and talk to me. They were informed via email that I would be in the neighborhood. But they can easily shrink back and think, Eh, I don’t want to talk to her. No. They didn’t wait for me to come. When they knew I was there, they went out looking for me.”

The enthusiasm in Encino, California, is certainly an encouraging sign for Bass’s campaign to become the next mayor of Los Angeles. But the controversial race for the incumbent has term limits Eric Garcetti—Whose job approval rating has dropped and who suggested he is disapproved of any candidate, according to LA time—Driven by a very different group of people on the streets: an estimated 40,000 homeless people live in alleys and parks and under highways across Los Angeles. How to help them — or how to get them off the streets — and how to stop LA’s rise in crime are top priorities for voters and the top issues that plague them. split Bass and Rick Caruso, the people in the recent poll were basically tied. Primary is June 7th.

Lots of other things also separate Bass and Caruso. He’s amazingly rich, a billionaire, thanks in part to a successful career developing high-end shopping malls. She is not. Bass grew up in the working-class Venice – Fairfax neighborhood, the daughter of a postman and hairdresser turned stay-at-home mom, and began her political career in the early 90s with as a grassroots organizer against the crack pandemic. Caruso is white and masculine; Bass, Black and Female. He was a longtime Republican, then an independent, until signing up to be a Democrat in January. Bass has been a Democrat since she was a teen volunteer during Bobby Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign.

The current mayoral run, however, will likely make a more fundamental distinction, between an outsider and an insider. Bass, 68, has held public office since 2004, the past 11 years as a congresswoman; in 2020 she did Joe Bidenshort list of possible vice presidential candidates. Caruso, 63, is running for the first time and is arguing that it was career politicians like Bass that brought LA ​​into its current mess.

Bass agrees that there is a crisis. But she believes it’s Caruso, promising a quick turnaround, and relies heavily on law enforcement who will repeat destructive mistakes. “Our problem was that we treated homelessness like a chronic disease,” Bass told me. “Well, it got out of control and now it’s an emergency, and you can’t treat it like normal high blood pressure and just keep taking the same medication. We have to do something completely different. “

But isn’t that Caruso’s view of him? Haven’t Bass and her government colleagues had many opportunities and failed? The congresswoman, of course, didn’t see it that way. “Absolutely, elected officials can do more,” she said. “I think a local billionaire can also do more. Rick raises a lot of money for charity — but he builds luxury homes! ” (“Blah blah blah,” a Caruso advisor replied.)

Bass’s definition of how she became mayor would bring about a “radical” change is nuanced. She’s hardly a stereotypical progressive in crime; she sees the LAPD’s important role in restoring order. But Bass also proposes a multi-level, coordinated, sustainable approach to the homelessness crisis that addresses many of its underlying causes — from youth fleeing abuse to mental illness and drug addiction to high rents — with a multifaceted response that incorporates everything from small hotel purchases by the city to use as temporary housing, to additional funding of treatment facilities, to increased training. job creation and education. Bass believes her deep experience in government gives her the skills she needs to forge unprecedented collaboration across city, county, state, and federal programs, and she can engage 15,000 people took to the streets in his first year in power.

Because of policy regulations, Bass’s ideas weren’t readily available, and she argued that Caruso’s proposals — more low-income housing, but also more police — would just repeat a calendar. history of inequality. “I watched this happen in the 90s when the problem was crack cocaine addiction,” says Bass, who was then a social worker and community organizer. “And the only thing that policymakers have is sentencing legislation, not drug treatment. They don’t consider it a health problem. They see it as a criminal matter. And so if you combine mass incarceration with the shredding of social networks, that equates to 40,000 tents today. A quick fix won’t solve this problem. But what I’m saying is, I don’t believe it took that long.” The L.A. Mayoral Race Is a Dead Heat Between an Ex-Republican Billionaire Shopping Mall Tycoon and a Career Politician

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