Win or Lose, Rick Caruso is Happy to Have “Changed the Narrative of What’s Going on” in LA

November 11, 2022
Rick Caruso speaks with reporters outside Langers Deli, as owner Norm Langer (blue polo shirt) looks on

With over half of the ballots left to be counted, there is still no winner in the race to be Mayor of Los Angeles.

The office of the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk announced that the next results drop will be on Friday morning.

Mayoral candidate Rick Caruso  said he didn’t get to bed until about 4:00 a.m. on Wednesday. It was the first day in quite a while that he had the opportunity to slow down from the six to ten events per day he had been doing.

So 17 hours after the polls closed, and another 46 before the next election data drop, Caruso had lunch at Langer’s Deli on South Alvarado Street.

The Journal caught up with Caruso and asked about his post-election message to the Los Angeles Jewish community.

“To the Jewish community who I love dearly and has been so good to me, I can’t wait to get into office and work with the Jewish community,” Caruso told the Journal. “A lot of it’s going to be around these hate incidents. We gotta protect the streets, we gotta protect people going to worship, and clean up the crime areas, and so I’m gonna be on it. And thank you for your support. The Jewish community came up big in support.”

While speaking with the press under the Langer’s awning, Caruso’s interviews were interrupted every few minutes by the sounds of police helicopters circling overhead and police sirens. Caruso quipped, “welcome to LA.”

On the corner of West 7th Street and South Alvarado the sidewalks are packed with street merchants and homeless people. But Caruso knows that the area around Langer’s is emblematic of what the work as mayor would entail if he emerges victorious.

“I love being down on this street, it’s the best deli in town, by far, the best rye bread, the best pastrami,” Caruso said. “But I walked this street about a week ago at night, and this is a good example which we gotta figure out. On how these streets work, how these merchants work, how the vendors work. Langer’s is impacted, they close at 4 o’clock now, they can’t stay open late because there’s crime problems, the homeless come in and disturb the help that works there—the people that are working behind the counters at night—the people that are eating there. We just can’t operate like that.

Caruso said he was not surprised at how close the election currently stands. With only 44% of the votes counted, Caruso (51.2%) leads Rep. Karen Bass (48.8%) by a slim margin. But besides sitting down for a lunch at his favorite deli, Caruso affirmed that he’s still hard at work while awaiting the results.

“We’re not at home waiting, we’re starting a whole transition, we gotta be prepared, I can win this, I can lose this,” Caruso said. “But it’s about a month, about four weeks before you take office. It’s sitting down and understanding the budget closely, the revenue that’s going to be coming into the city. I’m going to air the budget, we have to know how to work with that budget. Contacting the county, contacting the Governor’s office, putting together a transition team. A lot of work, we’re going to hit the ground running. We gotta be prepared.”

Although he said that neither he nor Rep. Bass had spoken on Election Night or Wednesday morning, both Bass and Caruso could find a fitting place for one another in each other’s respective mayoral administration—a role on a “Special Task Force on Homelessness” perhaps?

Part of Bass’s homelessness plan touts building more temporary housing. So it could make sense to have Caruso, a billionaire real estate mogul, in such a leadership role in a Bass Mayoral Administration.

Conversely, part of Caruso’s homelessness plan is to hire 500 additional caseworkers to coordinate special services to address mental health, job training and permanent housing. With a master’s degree in social work from USC and work history as a physician’s assistant and clinical instructor at the Keck School of Medicine, Bass would be an ideal candidate to lead a Special Task Force on Homelessness in a Caruso Mayoral Administration.

Regardless of the likelihood of either scenario, each candidate helping the other address homelessness with their unique set of skills could be a much-needed show of unity for the city of Los Angeles.

“I’m at peace that if I lose, I ran a great campaign from the standpoint that he had our heads up high, it was positive, I was proud of my family, I’m proud of and my team, I think it changed the narrative of what’s going on in the city and what we need to focus on, so I’m happy one way or the other, I really am,” said Caruso.

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