The debate was hosted by the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs, with Eyewitness News anchor Marc Brown moderating. Questions were generated by the institute's executive director Raphael Sonenshein, Los Angeles League of Women Voters president David Holtzman and ABC7 Eyewitness News reporter John North.
The five candidates, including Councilman Eric Garcetti, City Controller Wendy Greuel, Councilwoman Jan Perry, former assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin James, and Emmanuel Pleitez, have debated many times. They are fighting for the top two spots in what apparently will become a runoff for mayor of Los Angeles.
Not long after moderator Marc Brown began the debate, the two front runners went at it over the truth of a campaign ad in which Greuel claims that as her time as city controller, she has uncovered $160 million in waste a fraud.
"The numbers are simply not there," Garcetti said. "We have to be able to pave our streets with real dollars, we have to fix our sidewalks with real answers."
But Greuel stood her ground.
"They can attack me, they can attack my numbers, they can attack my auditors, the one thing they haven't done is attack the problem," she said.
Perry tried to separate herself from her long-time colleagues.
"I'm not the favorite of political power brokers or insiders because I've never been willing to cut backroom deals or make promises to special interests," she said.
The two candidates who've never won an election attempted to use that fact to their advantage.
"If you're happy with experience, you should vote for them. I'm not happy," said Pleitez.
"They are City Hall, it is broken and they broke it. You cannot solve the city's problems with the same people who caused them," said James.
The latest Eyewitness News poll puts Garcetti in the lead, with Wendy Greuel trailing by just three points. The candidates seem to agree there will be a runoff after the March 5 election. The top two candidates would then face off again in May.