California Democratic Rep. Karen Bass is entering the race to become the next mayor of Los Angeles, she announced Monday.
"Our city is facing a public health, safety and economic crisis in homelessness that has evolved into a humanitarian emergency," she said in a statement announcing her candidacy. "Los Angeles is my home. With my whole heart, I'm ready. Let's do this -- together."
If elected, Bass would be the city's first woman mayor and second Black mayor.
She would be the first sitting House member to be elected mayor of Los Angeles since 1953, when Rep. Norris Poulson was elected. Then-Reps. James Roosevelt, Alphonzo Bell and Xavier Becerra lost campaigns for mayor in 1965, 1969 and 2001.
Bass has been climbing the political ladder for the past 17 years. She was elected to the House in 2010 and was chair of the Congressional Black Caucus from 2019-21. She was under consideration to be President Joe Biden's 2020 running mate, but then-Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, was chosen instead.
The 67-year-old Bass represents the 37th Congressional District, which encompasses Los Angeles neighborhoods west and southwest of downtown including Crenshaw, Baldwin Hills, Miracle Mile, Pico-Robertson, Century City, Cheviot Hills, West Los Angeles, Mar Vista and parts of Westwood, as well as Culver City and Inglewood. Bass was a member of the Assembly from 2004-10, serving as its speaker from 2008-10.
Some experts are curious why Bass want to give up her seat in Congress to be mayor of Los Angeles.
"Lawmakers don't exactly have a great track record of getting easily elected to local office. She's giving up a great tenure of seniority in Congress to run in a very, very crowded field," said Mike Gatto, former California assemblyman.
Bass is now facing a growing list of competitors seeking to succeed Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is terming out. Garcetti has been nominated by President Joe Biden to serve as ambassador to India.
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer and two members of the City Council - Kevin de León and Joe Buscaino - have already announced their campaigns for mayor.
Jessica Lall of the L.A.-based Central City Association recently announced her candidacy, as did San Fernando Valley real estate broker Mel Wilson. And to further complicate things, billionaire developer Rick Caruso reportedly is considering a run, and former Los Angeles Unified School Superintendent Austin Beutner's name is also being tossed around as another candidate for mayor.
Whoever is elected however will face the city's massive homelessness crisis. Bass acknowledged this in her candidacy announcement statement this morning, writing "I've spent my entire life bringing groups of people together in coalitions to solve complex problems and produce concrete change -- especially in times of crisis."
City News Service contributed to this report.