Thirteen people are running for the position, but only four were on stage at the debate hosted by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Each candidate made his or her pitch to succeed outgoing Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
The candidates squared off in a spirited debate, which focused on the fiscal state of Los Angeles. City Controller Wendy Greuel touted her experience fighting waste, fraud and abuse at City Hall.
"With cities throughout the state of California declaring bankruptcy, we need to get our priorities straight and city leaders need to stop wasting time. It's time for a strong manager and fiscal watchdog who is willing to tell the truth," said Greuel.
Both Greuel and Jan Perry, City Council member from the 9th District, are hoping to become Los Angeles' first female mayor. Perry said she will be a decisive and strong leader who will fight for the city.
"If you want a candidate who will give you soft and pretty words, I'm not your candidate. If you want somebody who's going to be really direct and really candid with you and to say what I will do and say no to what I won't do, because I will always put the interests of people first," said Perry.
Eric Garcetti, the former City Council president who represents the 13th district of Hollywood, said he's running for mayor to "get people jobs and to put them back to work."
"But also to make City Hall work for everybody, just as we've done here in Hollywood -- the turnaround story that we couldn't have imagined 10 or 15 years ago," he said.
A not-so-familiar face, but perhaps a familiar voice, Kevin James -- a radio host and former federal prosecutor -- wasted no time taking aim at his opponents. He accused them of being part of the problem at City Hall.
"The three of them, ladies and gentlemen, they are City Hall. City Hall is broken, and they broke it," said James.
The municipal primary will be held on March 5. If none of the candidates gets the majority, then the top two vote-getters will square off in the general election on May 21.