US vice-president Kamala Harris will swear in Karen Bass as Los Angeles mayor, marking the historic election of the first Black woman to lead the second largest city in the country.
The swearing-in ceremony on Sunday will bring together two elected leaders who have repeatedly broken barriers in California politics and beyond. In 2020, Harris became the first woman, first Black person and first Asian person to be US vice- president. In 2008, as a California state assemblymember, Bass became the first Black woman to serve as the speaker of any US state legislature; she was elected to represent Los Angeles in the US congress in 2010 and later became chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.
The mayor-elect asked Harris to administer the oath of office as a way to recognize their positions as two of California’s most powerful Black women, the LA Times reported, citing an aide to the vice-president. Harris was honored to participate, the aide told the paper. The vice-president tweeted that it was “an historic moment for the people of Los Angeles”.
Bass, the first woman to lead LA and second Black mayor in the city’s history, defeated her opponent, billionaire real estate developer Rick Caruso, in the closely watched race in November. Caruso had spent more than $100m (£87m) of his own funds on his campaign, which spent roughly 10 times as much as Bass’s campaign.
It took a week for the race to be called, with Bass ultimately earning 55% of the vote and Caruso earning 45%.
Bass is stepping up at a pivotal moment in LA politics after a leaked audio recording captured three councilmembers making racist and bigoted remarks about colleagues and marginalized communities in the region, prompting an ongoing scandal. Several progressive candidates defeated more moderate opponents in key LA races this year.
The congresswoman is also taking over city hall at a time when LA county has recorded 69,000 unhoused people, including more than 48,000 living outside. On the campaign trail, Bass pledged to move 17,000 people indoors in her first year.