Despite bitter attacks in recent weeks, the two candidates for mayor of Los Angeles grudgingly conceded in a debate Sunday night that their rival was (mostly) honest and not so different on many of the plans they have for leading the city forward.
That didn’t mean that City Councilman Eric Garcetti and Controller Wendy Greuel didn’t find plenty of opportunity to lace acid attacks about the other's trustworthiness and independence. But they also found time to lay out records that they said made them most qualified to replace Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is leaving office June 30 after serving the maximum two terms.
The debate at USC’s Galen Center was sponsored by the university and the Los Angeles Times and broadcast live on KTLA-TV (Channel 5).
Greuel cited her audits of city departments and her experience developing housing and community programs, as a staffer for former Mayor Tom Bradley and, later, in the administration of President Clinton. She also stressed that she, unlike Garcetti, had private-sector experience—working in her family’s building supply business and for the DreamWorks studio.
Garcetti repeated his admonition that voters look at improvements in his City Council district—from Hollywood to Silver Lake and Atwater Village. He stressed a diverse public resume that includes service in the U.S. Naval Reserve and as part of a committee that advises the Obama administration on urban issues.
Co-moderators Jim Newton, the Los Angeles Times’ editor-at-large, and Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M Unruh Institute for Politics at USC, attempted to cut through the attacks near the start of the debate.
Newton noted the proliferation of attacks and asked each whether they believed their opponent was “a dishonest person.” They both said "No." But each couldn’t resist adding caveats that made the other look like less than a pillar of rectitude.