Column: Representation matters. But a Mayor Karen Bass means more for Black women in L.A.
City Councilwoman Karen Bass is an important figure in Los Angeles. More than any other elected official, she is shaping the future of the largest city in the state.
“I’ve been waiting to hear you,” she said, with confidence and a smile, in an interview during the annual Women of the Year Summit at the Hilton Hotel. “I’ve been waiting for this question for two years. I understand it’s an important discussion.”
The conversation began as a question posed by a constituent who wants to know what the elected officials thought of the city’s current crisis.
“I don’t really know what the question is,” said Bass, who at 76 has seen her city grow. “When I think about it I recognize, of course, that there are challenges,” she said. “As a result, as a leader, I feel compelled to take a look at it. But I don’t want to draw conclusions based on my own personal opinion. It is critical that the entire city have a unified response.”
Bass, who was elected in 2005, is a longtime community activist who has focused extensively on women and families. She has worked on issues related to economic development and housing, crime prevention and mental illness. She has served on the boards of the Center for the Study of Responsive Law and the Los Angeles Women’s Foundation. And she is one of the first elected officials in the country to hold a master’s degree in public policy.
The City Councilwoman is the only elected official in Los Angeles who answers to the city’s four black female delegates. Bass and the other delegates voted against the decision by the city administrator to not appoint the woman an independent counsel to investigate claims that a retired police officer committed perjury and made false statements while testifying to a civil rights investigation. The City Councilwoman said she would support a citywide investigation of the allegations.
“This is a very serious matter,” said Bass, who voted in favor of the selection. “I have an incredible respect for the woman in the position. I have worked with her many years. She has proven herself to be a very good leader in her position.”
Councilwoman Jan Perry, president of the Black Caucus