Karen Bass

Karen Bass’s win is a referendum on divide.

This year’s Los Angeles mayoral contest compared two contrasting ideas and approaches to LA’s future.

It received national attention compared to earlier elections, and citywide anxiety grew as Election Day approached. Angelenos saw political commercials everywhere: TV, social media, etc. Rich real estate developer Rick Caruso spent $100 million to buy his way into City Hall.

$100 million for LA mayor. Fail. Wednesday, Karen Bass won.

These monies may have helped homelessness. Caruso promised to enlarge the police department and be tough on crime. This gave LA residents bad memories. As a native Californian from South Central Los Angeles, I’ve witnessed the impact of municipal elections and law-and-order politics on Black and brown neighbourhoods.

Discriminatory policies and contentious politics have suppressed minorities for decades. I lived through South Los Angeles’ crack-cocaine pandemic. I lived through the 1980s and ’90s and saw how the war on drugs legitimised the militarization of the LAPD and mass imprisonment of Black and Latino youngsters.

Voters rejected Caruso’s plan and backed Bass, a coalition-builder who has represented Southern California in the Legislature and Congress. She’s been a grassroots architect of multicultural harmony in South LA for years.

She founded Community Coalition, a Black and brown South LA group, to empower locals to question the current quo and guarantee underrepresented communities received resources and respect.

Leaked tape showing city council and labour officials colluding for power inflamed racial tensions in Los Angeles. They shamelessly divided black and brown communities.

These recordings unified the city rather than dividing it. These so-called leaders don’t represent Angelenos’ ideals and have actually increased racial and ethnic unity. Voters took advantage of the opportunity to seek campaign pledges to help the most disenfranchised.

Coalition-building dominated Los Angeles politics. Supervisors put Measure A on the ballot to create Sheriff’s Office accountability, and voters approved it. A planned levy on pricey property transactions to develop affordable homes is also leading to solve the homelessness epidemic.

Los Angeles’ past is built on community. Look at the alliances created by past mayors Tom Bradley and Antonio Villaraigosa. Every race and ethnic group supported them.

The election outcome will spark Los Angeles’s people’s movement. This election was a mandate from the people and a referendum on division.

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