LOS ANGELES (AP) – The diversity of Los Angeles is evident in the emerging race to replace Mayor Eric Garcetti and the winning candidate emerging from the growing field of hopefuls must overcome rivalries and forge alliances between the city’s racial and ethnic communities .
No single group dominates the ballot boxes in the country’s most populous city, which makes forming a coalition an essential task.
US Democratic MP Karen Bass officially entered the 2022 contest on Monday in hopes of becoming the first female and second black mayors. Tom Bradley, the first black mayor, served from 1973 to 1993.
Bass represents a district in Congress that is anchored with some of the traditional black neighborhoods in which the city grew up. She promised to prioritize the city’s uncontrolled homelessness crisis, with rubbish-strewn camps spreading to virtually every corner of the city.
“I’ve spent my whole life bringing groups of people together in coalitions to solve complex problems and bring about concrete change, especially in times of crisis,” Bass said in a statement.
“I am ready with all my heart,” she tweeted.
Bass will compete for votes with a number of different candidates.
Alderman Kevin de Leon, who once led the state’s Senate before he was recalled, is a Latino born to a Guatemalan mother and father of Chinese descent; Mel Wilson is a black businessman from the San Fernando Valley area; Jessica Lall, who heads a downtown corporate group and is of Indian descent; City Attorney Mike Feuer is Jewish; and Councilor Joe Buscaino, who served 15 years with the Los Angeles Police Department, is a first-generation Italian-American whose parents were from Sicily.
The race is impartial, but the leading contenders are all Democrats, not surprisingly in a city where the party’s voters outperform Republicans 3 to 1. Bass and de Leon are favorites of the party’s progressive wing, while other candidates are parked across the Democratic spectrum.
The 2022 contest winner will inherit a city facing a tangle of urban problems, including battered streets and sidewalks, high crime rates, LA’s notoriously growling traffic, and property prices that are out of reach for many working class families. Primary school is in June.
Candidates must communicate with voters in numerous neighborhoods with different identities: single-family homeowners in the sprawling San Fernando Valley, Latinos who predominate east of downtown, young professionals in trendy Silver Lake, or residents of the traditionally black neighborhoods of South Los Angeles.
In the Koreatown and Little Tokyo neighborhoods, the Asian voice is at play, and there is a sizable population of Armenians, Russians, and others.
The Los Angeles Unified School District, which enrolls 650,000 students in LA and the surrounding communities, speaks 92 languages other than English.
“This city is a quilt with different patterns,” said Democratic advisor Michael Trujillo, who advises Buscaino. The overarching theme will be homelessness, he predicted, and voters are looking for a candidate to put a date on the calendar to end the lines of sagging tents and rusty RVs that line highways, on vacant lots, and below Overpasses have become a fixture.
With such a heterogeneous electorate, “you have to be able to talk about a common topic,” added Trujillo. The candidate who can keep this theme “is most likely to become the next Los Angeles mayor.”
When Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa became the first Latino mayor in more than a century in 2005, he had to overcome fears of the black community that they would be ousted from government in favor of Latinos. As a candidate, Villaraigosa spoke of bridging the “black and brown divide” that violence can generate.
Villaraigosa eventually won after vowing to unite the city and enlist support from prominent blacks, including US Democratic MP Maxine Waters. He took over the office of mayor from then Mayor James Hahn, another Democrat who lost support in the black community after the dismissal of then LAPD boss Bernard Parks, who is black.
Bradley, also a Democrat, became the city’s first black mayor by building an alliance of black and white liberals that broke the city from its conservative roots.
Garcetti was first elected in 2013 with strong support from Latinos and white voters, including in Republican areas, although he was outdone by rival Wendy Greuel in traditionally black neighborhoods.
Garcetti, who was nominated as ambassador to India by President Joe Biden, often switches to Spanish during his appearances and reminds the audience of his Mexican-Jewish-Italian roots by jokingly referring to himself as a “kosher burrito”.
Bass, 67, was a medical assistant and community organizer who became the first black speaker for the State Assembly in 2008. She is serving her sixth term in the House of Representatives and previously headed the Congressional Black Caucus.
She was shortlisted for Biden when he was contemplating a Vice President election, and she is also close to her fellow Californian who runs the US House of Representatives – San Francisco-based Nancy Pelosi.
Latinos and blacks are pillars of the Democratic Party in California and are often on the same side of political issues, but there has also been conflict over the years as the Latino population increased in LA and across the state.
Black people make up only about 9% of LA’s population while Latinos are about half, although they can be inconsistent voters and many are too young to vote or are non-citizens. About 30% of the population are white.
Jaime Regalado, former executive director of the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs at California State University in Los Angeles, said primary election winners must assemble a coalition that receives 22 to 25 percent of the primary – enough to run for a runoff two people in November in a crowded field.
“One group will not be enough,” he said, adding that Bass is likely to attract a large chunk of the black and liberal voices, forcing their rivals to seek support where they “likely didn’t think of it.” Search voices “. . “
When Bass gets in, it’s “a scramble,” he said.