Karen Bass
Photo from Bass' official Congressional website

Karen Bass is set to be sworn in as Los Angeles’ 43rd mayor Sunday in a historic inauguration at the Microsoft Theater, where she will become the first woman and second Black person to lead the city.

The ceremony was initially scheduled to take place outside City Hall, but rain in Sunday’s forecast led to a venue shift indoors. Doors open at 11 a.m., with early arrival encouraged and masks required for attendees. The program is set to begin at 1 p.m.

Vice President Kamala Harris, a former California senator and the first woman and woman of color to serve as the nation’s second-in-command, will administer the oath of office to Bass. Harris is not scheduled to make a speech.

State Senate President pro-Tempore Toni Atkins, the first woman to serve in that role, will provide remarks along with Kent Wong, director of the UCLA Labor Center.

Amanda Gorman and Sophie Szew will read poems. Gorman was the first National Youth Poet Laureate and delivered a poem at President Joe Biden’s inauguration, and Szew was a winner of last year’s Woorilla Poetry Prize and the inaugural poet for Beverly Hills Mayor Robert Wunderlich last year.

Several local faith leaders will also lead an interfaith invocation.

Sunday’s event marks the first mayoral inauguration in Los Angeles in nearly a decade, with outgoing mayor Eric Garcetti holding the post since 2013.

Bass defeated developer Rick Caruso Nov. 8 in an expensive and at-times contentious race.

She will inherit leadership of a city grappling with a scandal that has embroiled City Hall for the past two months, after three council members and a top county labor official took part in a recorded conversation in October 2021 that included racist comments and attempts to manipulate redistricting.

The fallout has continued to roil City Hall, with Councilman Kevin de León — one of the participants in the conversation — unexpectedly returning to the chamber on Friday, setting off chaos as he continues to defy calls to resign. De León later fought with an activist at a holiday tree lighting event on Friday evening.

The mayor-elect has pledged to immediately address the city’s homelessness crisis by declaring a state of emergency on day one. Her plan also includes housing 17,000 people experiencing homelessness in her first year.

“The people of Los Angeles have sent a clear message: It’s time for change and it’s time for urgency,” Bass said at her victory speech last month.

Bass stressed that she would “not accept corruption or cronyism,” nor would she tolerate “the sleight of hand or shuffling problems around.”

“I will not accept the notion that this is the way it’s always been done,” Bass said. “If you tell me that this is the way it’s always been done and that means that we’re supposed to continue to do it this way — and we know it’s not working … that will not be acceptable.”

Bass, 69, grew up in the midst of the civil rights movement with three brothers in the Venice and Fairfax neighborhoods. She was drawn to community activism after watching the movement on television, volunteering for Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign when she was 14.

Her organizing career began in 1990 when she founded Community Coalition, a South Los Angeles social justice group in response to the crack cocaine crisis. In 2004, Bass was the only Black woman in the state Legislature when she was elected to the Assembly. Four years later, she became the first Black woman to lead the chamber. Bass was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 and chaired the Congressional Black Caucus in 2019 and 2020.

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