Karen Bass Becomes First Woman Elected as Los Angeles Mayor

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“These are general statements, OK? But women are more collaborative. Women are not as transactional. And I think women focus on different issues,” she said. “I think women tend to lead differently.”

For much of the mayoral campaign, Ms. Bass was the front-runner, with polls showing her to be the best known candidate by far in a crowded primary field. But that changed with the late entrance of Mr. Caruso, 63, a deep-pocketed Brentwood businessman who had developed some of Southern California’s best-known shopping destinations and served on powerful boards overseeing the Los Angeles Police Department and the University of Southern California.

The two candidates were running to replace Eric Garcetti, who was ineligible to seek re-election because of the city’s two-term limit. The race was the first mayoral contest since the city’s decision to hold local elections at the same time as the statewide general election, and the first to follow a state law that provides every registered active voter with a mail-in ballot. The two changes dramatically broadened interest in the municipal election, and Mr. Caruso’s spending set records in the city, not only for campaign ads but also for phone banks, precinct walkers and other voter-turnout efforts.

In the final weeks, polls showed the officially nonpartisan race narrowing substantially. Ms. Bass, however, garnered numerous high-profile Democratic political endorsements, including one from former President Barack Obama. She also criticized Mr. Caruso for stances that he argued were only tangentially related to the limited powers of a mayor in the city — his belated switch to the Democratic Party, for instance, and his past contributions to conservative candidates who opposed abortion.

In a statement on Wednesday, Mr. Caruso wished Ms. Bass “Godspeed” and congratulations. “There will be more to come from the movement we built,” he said, “but for now as a city we need to unite around Mayor-elect Bass and give her the support she needs to tackle the many issues we face.”

Ms. Bass has said she will look to mend relationships when she enters office in December. The City Council is reeling from a series of scandals, including the leak of an audio recording in which a group of Latino members were caught making disparaging and racist remarks, several of which were directed at African Americans.

Also on the horizon are preparations for the 2028 Olympics, which Los Angeles is hosting, and the possibility of a painful economic downturn in a city with limited options for raising revenue.

She will have a powerful bully pulpit in her new post, but also significant constraints; Los Angeles government was designed to resist the concentration of authority. County officials oversee many of the social service programs necessary to address homelessness, for example, and any regional initiatives will require the broader buy-in of scores of surrounding cities and other levels of government.

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