Who Should Be the Next Mayor of Los Angeles?

A debate between Los Angeles mayoral candidates at Loyola Marymount University in February. Credit…Keith Birmingham/The Orange County Register, via Associated Press

In a little over a month, voters will decide who should run Los Angeles, America’s second-largest city.

On June 7, residents will pick from a crowded field of candidates vying to replace the city’s current mayor, Eric Garcetti, who has termed out. The election is a primary, and if no single candidate gets a majority of votes, a runoff will be held on Nov. 8.

My colleagues have previously written about the many crises that Los Angeles’s next mayor will face, including a rise in violent crime, the homelessness crisis and the ever-present threat of the coronavirus. The city’s problems have always existed, but in recent years have grown “staggering and existential,” they reported.

There are 12 candidates on the ballot, and five of the leading candidates faced off in a debate on Sunday night hosted at Cal State Los Angeles. It was one of the last major events before Angelenos begin receiving their mail-in ballots and start casting their votes.

The candidates argued about pollution, affordable housing, electric cars, crime on public transit and more. You can watch the full debate here, or read coverage from The Los Angeles Times or The University Times, the student newspaper at Cal State L.A.

Despite the high stakes, 39 percent of likely voters surveyed last month were unsure about whom they were going to support. If you’re in that camp, I’m here to help. Below is some background on the leading candidates, as well as resources to learn more about them.

  • Karen Bass is a congresswoman who was recently on President Biden’s short list for vice president. Bass had been considered the clear front-runner in the mayor’s race, with backing from progressive activists and members of the political establishment, but recent polling shows she has some serious competition.

    You can learn more about Bass’s plans to address homelessness and other issues in these interviews with The Los Angeles Times, KCRW, ABC7 and The Guardian.

  • Rick Caruso is a billionaire real estate developer and longtime civic figure who jumped into the race at the last minute.

    Caruso’s support has tripled in the past few months, leaving him and Bass with roughly equal approval from voters. In a U.C. Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies survey, Caruso had backing from 24 percent of voters and Bass from 23 percent. (It’s unclear how those numbers have shifted since the poll was conducted a month ago.)

    Caruso has undoubtedly been aided by the $23 million he has poured into his campaign, more than all the other candidates combined, The Los Angeles Times reported. By contrast, Bass has spent $800,000.

    You can hear more about Caruso’s agenda in these interviews with The Los Angeles Times, KCRW and ABC7.

  • Kevin de León is a city councilman, former State Senate leader and a well-known progressive. He has touted his background as a son of Guatemalan immigrants in a city that is 49 percent Latino.

    De León came in third in the U.C. Berkeley poll, with 6 percent approval from voters.

    You can learn more about de Leon’s platform in these interviews with The Los Angeles Times, KCRW and ABC7.

  • Joe Buscaino is a city councilman and a former police officer. He tried to position himself as a moderate, in the vein of New York’s new mayor, Eric Adams, who is also a former police officer.

    You can learn more about Buscaino in these interviews with The Los Angeles Times, KCRW and ABC7.

  • Mike Feuer is Los Angeles’s city attorney, and has talked about developing an emergency response to the homelessness crisis. He has emphasized his experience in government and vowed to visit all of the city’s 101 neighborhoods to make his pitch — a goal he said on Sunday that he had finally accomplished.

    You can learn more about Feuer in these interviews with The Los Angeles Times, KCRW and ABC7.

If you read one story, make it this

California cities top the list of places where homeowners gained extraordinary wealth from a booming housing market.

Bull kelp off Mendocino Headlands State Park in California.Credit…Brent Durand/Moment, via Getty Images

The rest of the news

  • Underwater kelp forest: There’s an aquatic jungle off the coast of Northern California, but 95 percent of it has vanished in less than a decade.

  • Millions of bees killed: A shipment from Sacramento of five million honeybees was diverted to Atlanta and left out on a hot tarmac. Few survived.

  • Most banned book in the country: Maia Kobabe’s book “Gender Queer,” about coming out as nonbinary, landed the Bay Area author at the center of a battle over which books belong in schools.


  • U.S.C. sexual abuse lawsuit: Eighty former U.S.C. students reached a settlement with the university regarding a campus doctor who they say sexually abused them, The Associated Press reports. The case is unusual from other recent settlements involving sexually abusive university doctors because most of the plaintiffs are L.G.B.T.Q. people.

  • What’s happening to West Adams? A developer is trying to flip the entire neighborhood, Bloomberg reports.


  • Death in prison: The death of a 50-year-old inmate at Kern Valley State Prison is being investigated as a homicide, The Associated Press reports.


  • S.F. slow streets: San Franciscans took to the streets over the weekend to support making permanent the pandemic-era decision to close 30 streets in the cities to cars, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Credit…Dane Tashima for The New York Times

What we’re eating

Crunchy spring iceberg salad.

Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Where we’re traveling

Today’s tip comes from William Jordan, who recommends “Point Reyes National Seashore for its beauty, its wide open spaces, its rolling landscape, and its wildlife.”

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to [email protected]. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.

Tim Vincent, left, and Michael Taylor walked down the aisle with their dog Beau at their April 9 wedding ceremony on the rooftop of Flannery Exchange in Palm Springs.Credit…Roger Kisby for The New York Times

And before you go, some good news

Before they met at a party in Oakland in 2011, Michael Taylor and Tim Vincent both thought they would be single for life.

But the two men were surprised by how quickly they felt comfortable with each other. And they valued being with someone who was also Black and close in age.

“I didn’t want to have to explain what my life was about,” Vincent, 65, told The Times.

The couple wed last month in Palm Springs. Read more of their love story in The Times.

Thanks for starting your week with me. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Thumbs-down votes (4 letters).

Jack Kramer contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].


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