Karen Bass, Rick Caruso address LA City Hall scandal in final mayoral debate

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Thursday, October 13, 2022
Bass, Caruso address LA City Hall scandal in mayoral debate
As Rep. Karen Bass and developer Rick Caruso debated for the third and final time, the big topic was how they would address the latest scandal at L.A. City Hall.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- In less than one month, Los Angeles should know who the city's next mayor will be.

On Tuesday, mayoral candidates Rep. Karen Bass and billionaire developer Rick Caruso debated for the third and final time.

The big topic was how they would address the latest scandal at City Hall -- a leaked recording between three council members and a powerful labor union leader that captured them making crude and racist remarks in a secret meeting over redistricting tactics.

Nury Martinez resigned from the council Wednesday. Kevin de Léon and Gil Cedillo have not resigned, despite calls to do so from numerous groups and politicians, including President Joe Biden.

Both mayoral candidates supported Martinez's resignation.

"Ms. Martinez did the right thing," Bass said. "For Los Angeles to move in the right direction, Mr. De Léon and Mr. Cedillo must resign as well."

Caruso said: "She made the right choice. We need to move forward as a city and heal." Caruso has also called on Cedillo and De Léon to resign.

At Tuesday's debate, both candidates expressed belief they could provide the fresh leadership Los Angeles needs.

"We need a new direction in L.A. and new leadership," Bass said. "I want to make sure we reject the politics of divide and conquer."

Caruso, as he has talked about throughout his campaign, connected the redistricting controversy to claims that the system is broken -- exacerbating issues such as homelessness and crime. He painted himself as the candidate of change, blaming a failure of leadership for the City Hall scandal.

"People are spending more time protecting themselves and protecting their jobs than working for the residents of city," Caruso said. "This is why we have crime out of control."

Bass said she would address the racial divide brought on by the racism from the officials in the leaked recording by using her experience as founder of the South Los Angeles nonprofit organization Community Coalition, which she started in the 1990s.

Caruso pointed to his work with pulling together communities to fight crime while on the city's Police Commission two decades ago, and also said he and his wife have provided scholarships and health care in Black and brown communities.

Unlike the first two debates, which featured feisty exchanges and back-and-forth allegations connecting each other to scandals, Tuesday's debate took a more civil tone -- perhaps with the City Hall scandal in mind.

Both candidates even agreed with and complimented each other's responses several times, a rarity during the first two debates.

Caruso continued campaigning Wednesday and spoke to Metro riders. Meanwhile, Bass was at LAX to greet President Joe Biden as he visits Southern California for about two days.

City News Service contributed to this report.