In 2005, Jessica Lall ran for Undergraduate Student Government president, navigated campus political dynamics, and learned how to create a politcal platform.
Now, Lall, who graduated in 2006, is running for Mayor of Los Angeles, using some lessons she learned in her campaign at USC, finding common ground and bringing people together.
Lall, a former political science and social science major, declared her mayoral candidacy on Sept. 20, promising to tackle issues such as homelessness and climate change. Her announcement came a week before Karen Bass, another USC alumna and congressional representative of USC’s congressional district, declared her run for the position.
“Los Angeles needs a new kind of leadership, leadership that’s fueled by creativity, inclusivity and action,” said Lall in an interview with the Daily Trojan. “I believe that I have a unique set of experiences in my career that prepare me to bring this type of leadership approach and change to our local government.”
In addition to serving as USG president, Lall interned for former California Sen. Barbara Boxer, served as the president of her sorority Delta Delta Delta and co-founded Youth Exploring Passion, a club which paired students from local schools with USC students who could help with academic work.
After graduation, Lall entered various government roles, such as senior policy director for the City of Los Angeles and executive director for the South Park Business Improvement District.
Lall currently works as the president and CEO of the Central City Association of Los Angeles, an advocacy and lobbying organization that contributes to future development of the downtown L.A. region. Lall also serves on the USC Board of Governors for the 2021-2022 term.
In her first speech since announcing her candidacy, Lall emphasized her youth and her potential status as first female Mayor of Los Angeles.
“I am here today to announce that I am running to not only become the next mayor of Los Angeles but the first female mayor of Los Angeles, the first digital native mayor of Los Angeles, a mayor who will build inclusive coalitions, invite new voices into the process enough for something different, something new to the communities that all serve in the city we all call home,” she said.
As student body president at USC, Lall said she worked toward creating the Steve Sample Campus Center and improving the Health Center.
Lall is running on addressing homelessness, a personal issue for her. In an interview on Fox 11, Lall said her brother passed away because of mental health conditions and addiction last year, which drives her commitment to solving the crisis. On her website, Lall has a seven-point plan to address the issue, including rapid rehousing, substance abuse programs, more housing and “not [tolerating] criminal activity that exploits the most vulnerable and makes our neighborhoods unsafe.”
“I think we do not need any more reports or analysis on this,” Lall said. “We really just need to put what we know needs to be done into action. And we need aggressive leadership that is consistent and informed to do that.”
In addition to homelessness, Lall said climate change, recovering from the pandemic and increasing wages are priorities in her campaign.
Although she does not currently hold public office, Lall said her outside perspective will help L.A.
“I’m not a career politician. So we’re going to not be running a traditional kind of campaign and that starts with being inclusive and not focusing so much on the political class but just your average Angeleno,” she said.
Lall’s father is an Indian immigrant and her mother is an Oklahoma-native. She grew up in Texas and England and came to L.A. when she entered high school.
If elected, Lall would succeed current Mayor Eric Garcetti, who was nominated as United States Ambassador to India.
Lall said college voters will play a pivotal role in the mayoral election.
“They’re going to play a critical role in deciding who is the next mayor. I say get inspired, get involved, ask the hard questions, participate. And reclaim your own city government for what’s in the best interest of Angelenos,” she said.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Lall was executive director for the City of Los Angeles and senior policy director for the South Park Business Improvement District. Lall was senior policy director for the City of Los Angeles and executive director for the South Park Business Improvement District. The Daily Trojan regrets this error.