2022 L.A. mayor’s race guide: What to know about Karen Bass, Rick Caruso, Kevin de León, Gina Viola

A view of Los Angeles City Hall at night.
Los Angeles City Hall.
(Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

Polls show there are three leading contenders in the race to succeed Eric Garcetti as mayor of Los Angeles.

Real estate developer Rick Caruso and Rep. Karen Bass are widely considered to be the front-runners, with most polling showing City Councilman Kevin de León trailing as a distant third. Progressive candidate Gina Viola also has a base on the left.

The election comes as Los Angeles struggles to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic while also dealing with rising violent crime and a growing homelessness crisis.

Polls have shown growing concern about the direction of L.A.


Here is a rundown on the three leading contenders:


Kevin de León

Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de León.
Mayoral candidate Kevin de León at a campaign rally.
(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

Age: 55

Residence: Eagle Rock

Profession: Los Angeles City Councilman.

Background: The first Latino to lead the state Senate in more than a century, De León is a political veteran. He’s a liberal Democrat in a political establishment that has shifted to the left in recent years, and he’s the Spanish-speaking son of immigrants in a city that’s roughly half Latino.

More stories:


Additional reading:

His untold story
(Sac Bee, 2017)

How he came to take on Dianne Feinstein
(Cal Matters, 2018)

Talking about his run for mayor
(KPCC, 2022)

A maverick in California politics
(Washington Post, 2018)

A man guided by past accomplishments
(LA Taco, 2022)


Rick Caruso

Rick Caruso fields media questions in February.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Age: 63

Residence: Brentwood

Profession: Real estate developer

Background: He served for years as president of the city’s Police Commission, on the board of the Department of Water and Power and also as chair of the USC board of trustees. He has also given away millions to philanthropic causes.

More stories:


Additional reading:

A Man of the Street
(Los Angeles Times, 2007)

Caruso’s alternate reality
(Los Angeles Times, 2004)

Rick Caruso’s dreams
(Los Angeles magazine, 2007)

Caruso’s Hollywood appeal
(Hollywood Reporter)

The man who could save retail
(Wall Street Journal)


Karen Bass

Rep. Karen Bass, a candidate for Los Angeles mayor
Rep. Karen Bass at Elysian Park.
(Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times)

Age: 68

Residence: Baldwin Hills

Profession: U.S. congresswoman

Background: Bass rose from being a young community activist in South Los Angeles to a congresswoman and in 2020 one of the people Joe Biden considered to be his vice presidential running mate. Backers say she combines a deep focus on equity and social justice from her activist days with the ability to compromise and policymaking chops that she has learned in Sacramento and Washington.

More stories:

Additional reading:


Karen Bass’ unexpected journey
(NY Times)

The Karen Bass L.A. knows
(Politico, 2020)

Bass surged up Biden’s VP list. Is she ready for the national stage?
(L.A. Times, 2020)

Congress is hopeless. Bass can do more in L.A.?
(L.A. Times, 2021)

USC gave Rep. Karen Bass a full scholarship worth $95,000 while she served in Congress
(L.A. Times, 2021)


Gina Viola

Gina Viola, business owner and community advocate
Gina Viola, business owner and community advocate
(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

Age: 53

Residence: Hollywood Hills

Profession: Business owner

Gina Viola is the only candidate in the L.A. mayor’s race calling for a halt to LAPD hiring, and shifting funds to social services.

May 30, 2022

L.A. mayoral candidates Karen Bass, Kevin de León and Gina Viola presented their views on addressing homelessness in the final debate before voting ends on June 7.

May 20, 2022


More guides to the election: