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Public Safety and Homelessness Top Issue in L.A. Mayor Race

The race to become Los Angeles's next mayor is getting closer, with crime and homelessness ranking as high priorities for voters, reports Politico. A poll from the University of California Berkeley found 61 percent of likely L.A. voters ranked homelessness as a top issue, with 38 percent citing crime and public safety. Rick Caruso, a former Republican who spent $9 million on ads vowing to crack down on crime, is neck and neck with Rep. Karen Bass, a Democratic household name, suggesting a likely run-off in November after a June 7 primary. Bass responded to voter angst about crime with promises to put hundreds more officers on patrol to back up outreach workers to combat drug trafficking. Ben Hauck, a vice chair for the progressive caucus of the California Democratic Party, who was leaning towards Bass earlier in the race said, “She’s fighting to get more police out in the streets, and her platform she put out on ‘public safety’ looks more like a Joe Biden crime bill than a progressive platform.”

The walk-back from the progressive platform coincides with a larger tone shift among Democrats. San Francisco Mayor London Breed called for a more aggressive” police presence during a December speech, and Gov. Gavin Newsom expressed support for a retail crime task force. Dissatisfaction with current Democratic stances led former Bass supporter Gina Viola to run as a police-abolitionist candidate. The L.A. Democratic Party elected to not endorse a candidate, further complicating the race. “Could I pick the lesser of two evils? I could. But when there’s a choice of no endorsement, I think that is also a powerful statement to say, ‘Look, I can respect what you’re trying to do here but I just don’t agree with the policy standpoint,’" said Fatima Iqbal-Zubair of the state party’s progressive caucus.


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