The Los Angeles mayoral race shows a shift in the police debate in a highly democratic city

The best candidates, all Democrats, had been eager for their first chance to contrast their records with their latest rival with big spending ahead of the June primary. But Caruso, leaning on his previous experience as a member of the Los Angeles Police Commission, which has proposed putting another 1,500 officers on the streets, launched a series of attacks, arguing that an outsider would be best suited to deal city ​​problems.

The debate underscored how far the pendulum has swung in the debate on policing, even in a city considered a bastion of liberalism, where all the leading candidates have promised to either maintain the current budget and the size of the city’s police department ranks or to expand . them, even though it has exposed them to criticism from the left.

When asked if she felt comfortable walking around Los Angeles, Representative Karen Bass – who has proposed hiring hundreds of civilians to fill desk jobs at the LAPD to put another 250 officers back on patrol – said she did that, but that she could not ignore the fear that voters have shared with her.

“I understand very well that many people around the city do not feel safe, and I respect that, and we need to address that,” she said.

Before Caruso jumped into the competition last month, Bass was widely seen as the frontrunner as Angelenos seeks a new leader who can tackle the city’s homelessness crisis – with more than 41,000 people living on the streets – and the rise in violent crime over the course of the race. of the last two years, including the “smash and grab” robberies that caught national attention.

But Caruso’s ability to self-finance and saturate the airwaves with advertising – as he has already done – has injected an air of uncertainty over the race.

“There are 63 years of career politicians on this stage,” Caruso said in Tuesday’s debate, hosting the USC Dornsife Center for the Political Future, Fox 11 LA and the Los Angeles Times, where he appeared with Bass, City Attorney Mike Feuer and LA City Council members Joe Buscaino and Kevin de León.

“Many good ideas, none of which were implemented before they ran. So there are many empty promises compared to what we have today: rising crime, more homeless people on the streets, and we’ve got more corruption at City Hall. These are the problems. , and the question is who can tackle these problems and change the system, “said Caruso, who has built a real estate empire that includes shopping malls, luxury apartments and other commercial properties.

Visibly annoyed, the four other candidates all demanded a chance to respond. Bass, who said she and Caruso are friends, scolded him for humiliating “career politicians – people who have dedicated their lives to public service.”

“The point is to bring our city together. Some people have dedicated their entire lives not to making money, but to doing public service, and they should not be discredited for it,” Bass said.

De León, a former pro tempore president of the California State Senate, got an audible gasp from the audience when he responded by telling Caruso, “I have a work you can only dream of having.”

“I made California the largest economy on planet Earth to literally commit to clean and renewable energy,” de León said. “I made California a sanctuary state – we sued all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court,” he said, adding that he had “knocked on doors, provided vaccinations and PPE equipment and hot meals to everyday Angelenos” during the pandemic, while claiming that Caruso had taken care of himself.

Feuer and Buscaino claimed to have spent their time in public service shaking up the system. They were both targeted at Caruso’s wealth, with Feuer supporting Caruso for his ownership of a “$ 100 million yacht registered under the Cayman Islands flag.”

“I have a nice boat and I have a lot of nice things,” Caruso replied. “I started my company with one employee, and I built it myself with a lot of amazing people … I want to release everything I pay in taxes, and believe me, I pay my fair share, plus.”

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