UPDATED: 8:00 a.m. ET, Dec. 12
Representation is the most efficient path to change. How can we be a part of the conversation if we are not in the room? Being represented in politics on a national level is very important, but if we want to see the changes that we deserve in our communities, it starts at the local level. In 2022, Black men and women all over the country were elected to represent their cities. Check out some of the Black mayors who have been sworn into office in 2022.
Los Angeles finally has a Black woman mayor.
On Sunday in front of thousands, Karen Bass was sworn in as Los Angeles’ 43rd mayor by Vice President Kamala Harris, making her the first Black woman to ever serve in that role. Bass is also the first woman to ever be elected mayor of Los Angeles.
Her star-studded ceremony, which took place at LA’s Microsoft Theater was also blessed with a performance by singer and songwriter Stevie Wonder.
“I call on our city to not just dream of the L.A. we want but to participate in making the dream come true,” Bass said during the event.
But it’s going to take a lot of work for Bass to make her vision of Los Angeles a reality.
According to Politico, in recent years LA’s homeless population has exploded to 40,000, with some experts claiming that may be on the low end.
Violent crime has also been on the rise in Los Angeles, with gun violence leading the way. Bass will have to tackle many of these issues as well as others in her first term, but she doesn’t plan on hesitating.
On her first day in office, she has a visit with the city’s Emergency Operations Center and plans on declaring a state of emergency on homelessness.
“My emergency declaration will recognize the severity of our crisis and break new ground to maximize our ability to urgently move people inside, and to do so for good,” Bass said.
In the November midterms, U.S. Rep Karen Bass was elected mayor of Los Angeles.
Bass “amassed an insurmountable lead of nearly 47,000 votes,” the AP reported. “She had 53.1%, with Caruso notching 46.9%.”
“Karen Bass’ victory is important to the people of Los Angeles because she is one of us,” Emiliana Guereca, Founder, and President of Women’s March Action, said in a statement emailed to NewsOne after the election results were announced. “She will fight for women’s rights, build bridges, help house the homeless, secure federal dollars and bring fresh energy to City Hall. She is going to be a great role model and will make us proud.”
She’s publicly stated that one of her priorities is to tackle Los Angeles’ homelessness crisis, something Bass says she plans to address on “Day 1” of her term, and for good reason.
In 2020, Los Angeles saw its total homeless population rise by 4% to 69,000 people, an increase of 2,700 people.
But homelessness isn’t the only problem Bass plans on tackling. In an open letter to Los Angeles on how she plans to restore public safety, Bass listed her plans on police reform, gun violence, hate crime prevention, and a host of other priorities geared toward keeping the city safe. The letter also details plans to strengthen the Fire Department and its ability to respond.
Bass, a 69-year-old native Angeleno who Joe Biden seriously considered to be his vice-presidential running mate in 2020 — makes her the latest inductee into a growing club of Black mayors of major cities who have been elected in recent years, at least 11 of whom were sworn in this year alone. She will also become the second-ever Black mayor of the city. Tom Bradley served as Los Angeles’s first Black Mayor from 1973 to 1993.
Some of the largest cities in America have Black mayors. New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Lori Lightfoot in Chicago, London Breed in San Francisco, and Muriel Bowser in Washington, DC are just a few on a growing list o Black mayors leading their respective cities.
Check out a few Black mayors who have been sworn into office in 2022.
MORE: Op-Ed: A Divided Congress Raises Bigger Issues Than Potential Gridlock
1. Justin Bibb – Mayor of Cleveland, OH
Justin Bibb was sworn in as Cleveland’s 58th mayor at the city’s Public Auditorium on Jan 8, 2022. Dubbed Cleveland’s first millennial mayor, the 34-yea-old political phenomenon won the mayoral election by defeating Kevin J. Kelley with 62% of the vote. He’s Cleveland’s fourth black mayor and the city’s second youngest.
Bibb, who was born and raised in Cleveland, has wanted to be in politics the majority of his life and his journey is quite interesting.
He interned for Senator Barack Obama in 2007 and took his first local government job in 2011 as Special Assistant for Education & Economic Development for Cuyahoga County, Ohio.
Bibb took his talents to the corporate world in 2015, becoming the Head of Global Cities Practice at Gallup, traveling, and working in New York and Washington D.C.
Bibb returned to Cleveland in 2019 to serve as KeyBank’s Vice President. Although Bibb worked in a corporate capacity, he also had his thumb on the pulse of the black community in his native city.
After the shooting death of Tamir Rice in 2014, Bibb co-founded Hack Cleveland, a non-profit that advocates for criminal justice reform using civic technology.
During Bibb’s inauguration address he pledged to build a safer, more equitable, and healthier Cleveland.
“We can be the Cleveland that young people move back to because there are good jobs, safe streets, good schools, quality grocery stores, good health care,” said Bibb. “We don’t just have to dream about that Cleveland. We can and will work toward that goal every minute of every day.”
Police reform is also on the agenda for the Newly elected mayor. He plans to provide police officers with raises, better technology, and more accountability while giving residents a louder voice in how their neighborhoods are policed.
2. Andre Dickens – Mayor Of Atlanta, GASource:Getty
Atlanta’s new mayor Andre Dickens was sworn in Monday, Jan 3, 2022, at his alma mater Georgia Tech. Dickens became the city’s 61st mayor. Former mayors Keisha Lance Bottoms and Shirley C. Franklin spoke and congratulated Dickens, as well as the new Atlanta City Council members.
Mayor Dickens faces many challenges ahead but says he is ready to take them head-on. “Each mayor had their burden and mine is to bring us together to form a safe the thriving city,” Dickson said during his inauguration speech.
Dickens, who beat Felicia Moore in a runoff election in November, looks to make public safety his top priority. He already has plans to beef up the lighting around Atlanta to make the city safer.
47-year-old Dickens has already pledged to add 250 police to the Atlanta Police Department in his first year in office. His plan called “SAFE Streets Atlanta,” will target violent gang leaders and create a task force that will tackle gun trafficking. The addition of more officers will also come with training every APD employee in racial sensitivity and de-escalation technique.
Dickens also plans to increase affordable housing, improve Atlanta’s failing infrastructure and give residents the tools to help them qualify for high-paying jobs.
During the inauguration, he denounced the Buckhead City movement saying, ”We don’t need separate cities. We must be one city with one bright future.”
Dickens is an Atlanta native who earned an engineering degree at Georgia Tech. He then earned his master’s degree in public administration at Georgia State University.
Before his time in politics, Dickens worked for TechBridge, a nonprofit that tries to use technology to aid other charitable groups.
Now Dickens looks to write a new chapter for the city of Atlanta. Young, energetic, and ready for change, his vision is demanding but clear. Now Atlanta just needs action and hopefully, Dickens will bring it.
3. Eric Adams – Mayor Of New York City, NYSource:Getty
Eric Adams was sworn in as the 110th mayor of the city of New York on January 01, 2022 in New York, NY. He is just the second black mayor in the city’s history and the first black mayor in over 30 years. Adams’ main focus will be helping the city get through its record number of COVID cases due to the omicron variant. The retired NYPD officer has also pledged to tackle the cities transportation issues by building 150 miles of new bus lanes and 300 miles of protected bike lanes. He also wants to build 15,000 units of supportive housing by 2025
4. Jaime Kinder – Mayor Of Meadville, PA
Jaime Kinder was sworn in as mayor of Meadville, PA on January 3, 2022. She is the first woman and first Black person to ever serve as mayor since the city was incorporated in 1866. Mayor Kinder plans to prioritize Meadville’s downtown business district, more transparency in city government, and housing.
“We want to make sure that Meadville is about backing and promoting our downtown,” said Kinder during her press conference. “They’re a priority here.”
5. Vivian McKenzie- Mayor Of Peekskill, NY
Vivian McKenzie was sworn in as the Mayor of Peekskill, NY on New Year’s Day. She is the first black woman to elected mayor in the city’s history. Although Mckenzie is new to the role, she isn’t completely green to its duties. She served as deputy mayor for the last two years and already has a vision for the city. McKenzie plans to provide better city services, safer streets, better care for seniors, and pursue economic development for better paying jobs.
“I am committed to working with the council to create a vision for our city to continue to move us forward. I will not be perfect but I will be honest, humble and diligent in serving you, in this great city of Peekskill,” said McKenzie during her ceremony.
6. LaRhonda Patrick – Warner Robins, GA
LaRhonda Patrick was sworn in as mayor of Warner Robins, GA on January 3, 2022. She is the first woman and first black person to be elected as mayor of Warner Robins.
“Being the first of many always comes with some pressure, and I feel the pressure but I also feel the pride,” said Patrick during her swearing in ceremony.
“This is our city. This is our future. We’ve made history, but together we will write a beautiful future.”
7. Byron Brown – Mayor Of Buffalo, NY
Byron Brown was sworn in as the mayor of Buffalo for the firth time. He has spend 17 years and City Hall. Brown’s agenda for the next four years in office include more development in Buffalo’s neighborhoods, affordable housing, inclusion, and diversity. Although he is a listed as a Democrat, Brown identifies as a centrist and hopes his ideas will help bring people together.
“I’ve always been a centrist,” said Brown during a press conference at his inauguration. “I think in this election that we just came through, the majority of the people in this community, in this city, were saying that they wanted someone who was in the middle. They did not want a socialist, they did not want a far-left entity. But at the same time, we have seen the destruction from the far right, so I’m going to continue to focus on the middle and bringing people together to get things done.”
8. Ed Gainey – Mayor Of PittsburghSource:Getty
Ed Gainey was sworn in at the 61st mayor of the city of Pittsburgh on Jan 2, 2022 in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the first black mayor in the city’s history. Gainey, who is dedicated to diversity and inclusivity, says his main agenda is to make Pittsburgh a safe, affordable and diverse municipality. He also spoke about improving social safety nets, universal pre-kindergarten, and mending relationships between the police and the community.
9. Melvin Carter – Mayor of St. Paul, MNSource:Getty
Melvin Carter was sworn into his second term as mayor of St. Paul, MN four years after being elected the first black mayor in the city’s history. With the city still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 riots from the death of George Floyd, Carter looks to raise the cities minimum wage, as well as refocus resources towards public safety.
10. Ken Welch – St. Petersburg, FL
Ken Welch is the black person to be elected mayor of St. Petersburg, FL and he will be the city’s 54th mayor. Due to a positive COVID-19 test, his inauguration has been postponed, although he is still scheduled to begin work in City Hall on Jan 10.
“Though we will not be able to celebrate in person, let us keep front of mind the significance of the day, he said in an interview. “The day that we begin a journey together, as one community in one city, toward inclusive progress. We will have much more to celebrate together in the years to come.”
11. Elaine O’Neal – Mayor Of Durham, NC
Elaine O’Neal was actually sworn in as mayor of Durham, NC on December, 6, 2021. She is the city’s first Black female mayor. In her 100-day plan she stressed the importance of supporting the youth of Durham with recreational, physical, and mental health services.
“I love Durham, and I promise to serve them well, to the best of my ability, but I’m also asking them to commit to serving the community well, too,” O’Neal said during an interview at her inauguration.
12. Deqa Dhalac – Mayor Of South Portland, ME
Deqa Dhalac was sworn in as the mayor of South Portland, ME on December 6, 2021. She is the first Black Muslim mayor of South Portland and the first Somali-American mayor in the United States. Dhalac won her election in a district that was 90% white.
“People will always have some kind of reservation … but will get to know you, listen to you and see who you are through that,” she said during a speech at her inauguration.
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