Opinion: Many cheer Bass' mayoral win. Some wonder why L.A. elects only Democrats

LOS ANGELES-CA - NOVEMBER 17, 2022: Karen Bass mingles after her election announcement at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles on Thursday, November 17, 2022. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)
Karen Bass talks to supporters Nov. 17 after being declared the winner of the mayoral race. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

The results of Los Angeles' election have been clear for a while now. A deeply Democratic City Hall became more progressive with the election of Rep. Karen Bass as mayor, Kenneth Mejia as city controller and grass-roots activists who defeated City Council incumbents.

To outsiders, this can be puzzling. Some readers from beyond Los Angeles and even California have sent letters expressing astonishment that a city plagued by sclerotic leadership would replace incumbent Democrats with new Democrats. Of course, local elections are nonpartisan, and the idea that the winners' party affiliations indicate that voters doubled down on the current leadership misses a lot.

With more daylight between now and Nov. 8, our letter writers are looking back at what messages resonated and ahead to new leadership. And yes, some wonder why L.A. just can't quit Democrats.

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To the editor: The resounding success of Mayor-elect Karen Bass' campaign was clearly due to multiple factors, not the least of which was candidate quality.

Among the most consequential was the extensive, highly motivated and exceedingly well-organized army of volunteers from every corner of the city who knocked on thousands of doors. As an active participant in this grass-roots campaign, I know that you cannot put a price (even $100 million) on the passion, energy, commitment and boundless creativity of Angelenos working together for a common purpose.

Those of us who supported and worked hard for this outcome did so because we know and trust Bass. We are confident that she has the specific leadership skills and vision we so desperately need at City Hall.

Katherine Moore-MacMillan, Studio City

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To the editor: I lived in Los Angeles from 1953 to 2001. I live in Las Vegas now. I do not even want to visit L.A. or any part of California, but I go (rarely) because a daughter lives in Santa Clarita.

My biggest question after the election in California is this: Why do the voters there continue to support monolithic, one-party control when the state and its cities are such a mess?

My suggestion to Angelenos and all Californians is this: Take a chance and try something different. You don't have to elect conservatives, but stop rewarding failure as your state continues its decline.

That is really sad, especially coming from someone who once lived there and loved that state.

Michael Casler, Las Vegas

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To the editor: Dear City Controller-elect Kenneth Mejia:

I was offended by your immature tweets against Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden — exactly the kind of Green Party naïveté that has done our country and environment so much more harm than good since 2000. But I am relieved that you now regret your past errors.

And if you succeed in pushing city leaders to stop overpaying (or, better yet, stop employing) vaccine-refusing firefighters who live out of state, and if you succeed in holding city leaders accountable for spending on homelessness and affordable housing and animal services and clean energy and sustainability, then you should become mayor someday.

John Godges, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Congratulations to Bass, soon to be the first female mayor of Los Angeles. Angelenos can be very proud that Bass will soon represent them.

I challenge her opponent Rick Caruso to continue to spend the kind of money on Los Angeles as he did in his campaign to help solve the problems on which he ran.

Perhaps as a private citizen, Caruso will partner with Bass to become a true angel of Los Angeles. He can continue to spend his fortune and apply his experience for the greater good of the city that he says he loves, which has been so good to him as the major source of his immense wealth.

Why stop now? Caruso could spend $100 million a year for many years without running short. He can show Angelenos that he was not just spending to buy the election, but that he truly stands behind his rhetoric.

Morgan Schwartz, Culver City

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To the editor: Congratulations to Bass. When the mayoral race began I was going to vote for Caruso. I wanted to see if he could make good on his plans regarding homelessness.

But as the campaign went on my allegiance shifted. The reason was simple: It was the relentless onslaught of Caruso's negative ads.

If you are going to run a negative campaign, you need a good villain as an opponent. Bass was not that villain. Californians know her well from her years of public service. The negative ads simply did not ring true.

Plus, $100 million of Caruso's own money made it look like he was buying the office. It became a David-and-Goliath contest, and we know how public sympathy went on that ancient battle.

Apparently negative campaigns work; otherwise, politicians wouldn't keep mounting them. But I will always vote for the candidate who takes the high road.

Let's get behind Bass and help her make L.A. a better city.

Doug Jones, Los Feliz

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To the editor: There's a lesson in this — next time, spend $200 million.

Tony Castañares, Hollywood

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.