For Black Angelenos, election of Karen Bass brings joy in a divisive time. But they want results and transparency
Karen Bass was elected to the Los Angeles City Council on Nov. 7. Photo by Michael Chow / Times.
When black Angelenos turned out to support Karen Bass last month, there were two primary reasons:
The first was a personal one.
“I voted for her because I loved her and I love the community she represents,” said Cinthia Ponte of Pomona, who’s a member of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. She’s the vice president of the South Los Angeles Labor Council.
The second, and deeper reason, was that she’s an anti-war activist and has fought tirelessly for equal rights and justice for all, a cause that resonates with those who believe that the war in Iraq is unwinnable.
In a city where most candidates for the city council or the state Supreme Court are white, or at least of a different heritage than their opponents, there was hope she would be the rare black female politician to win statewide and nationwide.
“I was very hopeful,” said Cynthia Tucker-Daniels, who has lived in Pasadena for 23 years and previously ran the nonprofit organization that runs Our City, Our Schools.
Bass, who grew up in the Watts neighborhood in South Los Angeles and is the executive director of Peace Action Los Angeles, was backed by the Black Leadership Forum and Peaceful Schools of Los Angeles; she’s also endorsed by the Congressional Black Caucus. The Los Angeles Times reported that Bass has an impressive resume that includes managing her own environmental nonprofit, stints on the city’s school board, and two unsuccessful runs for mayor in the past.
Still, she needed almost 11,000 signatures on petitions to get on the ballot, and was forced to drop out of the race in early September.
The election of her new opponent, Councilman Roderick Wright, a white liberal from Santa Monica, was also a reflection of a city whose white voters have traditionally tilted toward the left.
Bass won the June primary with 53.7% of the vote. She also defeated a black opponent who lost the June primary to the mayor.
Bass’s victory was a historic milestone for black Angelenos as well as a victory for those who believe that the war in Iraq is