The race to replace LA Mayor Eric Garcetti heated up Tuesday night with businessman Rick Caruso joining candidates for the first time for a debate at USC.
On stage at Bovard Auditorium flanked by four leading contenders, front-runner Congresswoman Karen Bass stated her plan to tackle homelessness, LA's #1 problem, if elected.
"We need to have everything expedited if you're going to build affordable housing," she said. "On Day One I would appoint a chief. That person would report directly to me."
Polling in second place, LA Councilman Kevin de Lèon says he's got a plan too.
"I'm already doing something about it," he said. "I've built more housing opportunities for our unhoused neighbors in LA in the past year, the largest tiny home village in the US of A."
Candidates quickly challenged first-time debate participant, billionaire developer Caruso.
"It's great to see Rick Caruso here, finally," said LA City Councilman Joe Buscaino. "Thanks for joining us Rick."
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"Let's just focus on the issues, instead of attacking," Caruso said. "You got crime problems, corruption in City Hall, homeless problems."
"Mr. Caruso, You indicated you're a builder. I respect that," said LA City Attorney Mike Feuer. "You haven't done much in the way of building homeless and affordable housing for all the opportunities you've had."
In the post-debate availability, candidates expanded on points made on stage.
"Unfortunately it took this long to see Caruso on a debate stage," Buscaino said. "The people of LA deserve to hear what his plan is."
All the candidates taking stabs at the most pervasive problem of our time.
"The tangible thing I can can do as Mayor is activate the Emergency Response Center," Buscaino said. "We have a crisis, dealing with 24-7 instead of 9 to 5."
Said Feuer: "We have multiple services available. No more shopping around the city for a person experiencing homelessness."
Said Caruso: "When you have homelessness, you have crime, you have corruption? You're dampening those dreams. That's what's happening to the city. That's why I'm in the race."
The candidates had 90 minutes to draw distinctions on matters like defunding the LAPD and recalling District Attorney George Gascon.
Topics they're bound to revisit as more debates are planned before the primary on June 7.