The Thursday evening debate between mayoral hopefuls U.S. Rep. Karen Bass and developer Rick Caruso was similar to their first contentious debate, as well as the race as a whole: plenty of mudslinging and accusations of lying.
In this second debate, both Caruso and Bass pushed back against each other’s statements for much of the hour-long event, which was hosted by KNX News.
“We’ve had too much corruption in this city and look what’s happened. And I’m sorry my opponent is tied up in a federal corruption case,” Caruso said.
“I understand why voters are discouraged because you do not tell the truth,” Bass said.
When it came to questions from the moderators, topics included those on many Angelenos’ minds — homelessness and crime— as well as broader issues like immigration and abortion.
“I know how to tackle problems. I’ll tackle homelessness,” Caruso said.
Bass argued that Caruso’s plan involves creating more shelter beds.
“We do need shelter beds, but he doesn’t have a plan for after shelter beds. You have to build shelter beds, then you have to move people into permanent supportive housing. You need to have counseling, you need to address why they were unhoused,” Bass said.
The candidates also disagreed on how best to reform the Los Angeles Police Department.
Referencing Mayor Eric Garcetti, Caruso claimed that “right now, there’s a leadership that’s not allowing them to do their job,” resulting in a dearth of LAPD recruits.
“We have to change the culture. There are so many good men and women that want to serve and protect, and they want to do it in the right way, respect the community and do the best of reforms, which we have to have,” Caruso said.
Bass responded that while she wants more officers on the streets instead of in administrative roles, “not all communities want to see an increase in police presence.”
Instead, she argued, “a lot of communities want to see a serious investment in crime prevention and intervention strategies.”
Recent polling shows Bass has a slight lead over Caruso, though the developer has narrowed the gap in the past few weeks.
Another debate is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 11, but according to professor Fernando Guerra Loyola Marymount University, all that really matters is Election Day, Nov. 8.
“This isn’t over by a long shot. Certainly, Caruso has the resources to make up ground. Evidently, he is doing a lot of good mobilization on the ground, and that might prove the difference,” Guerra said.
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