Hundreds of San Fernando Valley area residents turned out Thursday on the campus of Cal State Northridge for a debate between the five leading candidates in the Los Angeles mayoral election.
The debate at the Valley Performing Arts Center was co-sponsored by the Los Angeles County Business Federation, a business advocacy group. It was moderated by Austin Beutner, a former investment banker and city official who was briefly in the race before dropping out.
The five candidates – Los Angeles City Councilmembers Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry, Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel, attorney and former talk radio host and attorney Kevin James and technology executive Emanuel Pleitez – took questions on a variety of issues. They ranged from how they would handle the city’s structural budget deficit, job creation, business taxes, public safety and how their experience makes them qualified to be mayor.
Garcetti, Greuel and Perry positioned themselves as the veteran insiders whose past accomplishments made them the best candidate, while James and Pleitez took the role of political outsiders who would bring fresh ideas to City Hall.
“You can’t solve your problems with the same people who caused them,” James said.
Garcetti, who is termed out as a councilman, and Greuel, who served on the City Council before her election to controller in 2009, are considered to be the frontrunners in the primary election on March 5. The top two vote getters in the primary face each other in a run off on May 21.
As mayor, Greuel said she would sit down with labor leaders to work out options for lowering expenses for the city, including having employees contribute more to their pensions and health care.
Garcetti said he would bring the same level of job growth and development to the city that he did for his district in Hollywood. He also favored phasing out the gross receipt tax on business as long as there were other sources of replacement revenue.
The Los Angeles Daily News co-sponsored the debate.