Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced Friday his endorsement of Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) in the mayor's race, arguing that Bass' nearly half-century of public service makes her the most qualified candidate to lead the city.
“In the 48 years I have known Karen Bass, she’s always been a person of courage and conviction, someone who people like and respect,” Villaraigosa said.
Villaraigosa said he typically would not endorse so early in the race but felt he had to because the city's problems require aggressive leadership.
“I have lived here my entire life. I have never seen this city so dirty, so rudderless," Villaraigosa said. "Homeless everywhere, crime going up, and there just seems to a be a lack of urgency, a lack of any kind of all-hands-on-deck approach to these crises."
City Councilmen Joe Buscaino and Kevin de León, City Atty. Mike Feuer, former Metro board member Mel Wilson and downtown business leader Jessica Lall are also running to succeed Mayor Eric Garcetti, who faces term limits.
Villaraigosa said that he met Bass in the early 1970s at the community group Coalition Against Police Abuse, where they worked on such issues as the drug epidemic, police accountability and poverty.
“She’s always been a coalition builder," he said, noting that she brought Latino and Black residents together when the demographics of South Los Angeles began to change.
More than 30 former and current politicians support Bass' mayoral bid, according to her campaign website.
Some of those endorsements have proved to be a problem, however.
Her campaign on Thursday removed the name of Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas — a longtime ally of Bass — a day after he was indicted on federal bribery charges.
Her campaign also announced last month that Councilman Curren Price was backing her. Hours later, a Price representative told The Times that he hadn't yet endorsed in the race.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.