HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA.com) — Four major candidates for the mayor of Los Angeles gathered in Hollywood Wednesday for the first debate of the campaign season.
In March, voters will head to the booth to vote for who will succeed Antonio Villraigosa.
City controller Wendy Gruel told the crowd at the Taglyan Cultural Center about her experience in ferreting out waste fraud and abuse at city hall.
"As mayor, I will use my experience as city controller and put a stop to this kind of waste. The reality is, the city has wasted money on bloated bureaucracy, excessive perks, pension spiking, and double dipping," she said.
Councilwoman Jan Perry said she would be a tough and straight talking mayor, just as she has been in the city council.
"If you want a candidate who will give you soft and pretty words, I'm not your candidate," Perry said. "If you want somebody who is going to be really direct and really candid with you, and to say what I will do, and to say 'no' to what I won't do, because I will always put the interest of people first, I am your candidate."
Former city council president Eric Garcetti said he will do for Los Angeles what has already been done in Hollywood, the city he represents.
He also said he'll fight for jobs.
"As your mayor, I will go to Sacramento and make sure we expand those tax credits, to make sure those good middle class jobs that are here, stay here," Garcetti said.
The outsider, former federal prosecutor and radio talk show host Kevin James, called out his opponents for not having addressed the city's problems already, as they're all incumbent public officials.
"Who has been in office for the past 10 years when we have seen the exit of an entire industry? You are looking at them except for me. They have been at the forefront of the outsourcing of the entertainment industry," James said.
One issue that didn't come up at the debate was the proposed sale of AEG, which is in the middle of crucial negotiations to build a new downtown stadium for an NFL team.
KCAL9's Dave Bryan asked each candidate what they would do to protect the city's interests when and if the new ownership wants to change the deal.
James said he would put the whole deal on hold until new ownership is found, while the other candidates said they would make sure the deal happens.
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