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LA Mayor's Race: Bass, Caruso clash on homelessness, crime during debate

Karen Bass, Rick Caruso face off in debate for LA Mayor
Karen Bass, Rick Caruso face off in debate for LA Mayor 03:05

Mayoral candidates Karen Bass and Rick Caruso faced off in the first debate ahead of the November election.

Bass and Caruso clashed on several issues the first of which was the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles. Bass said she wanted to "get people off the streets immediately" while Caruso said he would call a state of emergency to use the full power of the mayor's office. 

"Bring a team of the best and brightest," said Caruso. "I want to be part of a team of change agents that are actually going to get something done."


Bass said that the city had to go in a new direction to get the approximately 40,000 homeless residents off the streets. 

Both candidates also emphasized the residents' concern around rising crime in LA. Bass said her public safety plan was to get more officers onto city streets, especially in the neighborhoods where people are asking for an increased police presence. 

Caruso also said that many residents no longer feel safe in the city. 

"I'm going around this whole city; people don't feel safe," he said. "They just don't feel safe. They don't feel safe to go for a walk. People are taking off their jewelry before they go to dinner. Think about all the things we can't do anymore."

Caruso also questioned Bass about the recent burglary at her home where two firearms were stolen. 

"We didn't hear much about these guns," said Caruso. "I think the congresswoman should answer some questions about — what kind of guns were they? How were they stolen?"

Bass said she was disappointed in Caruso for asking such questions and brought up a burglary that happened at the Grove, which Caruso owns. 

"When the Grove was burglarized I called you to find out how you were," she said. "And instead you call on me to prove one thing or another."

On national issues, Bass emphasized that abortion was legal in LA and California and seemed to put Caruso on the defensive about donations he made to Republican politicians. These donations happened before he changed his party affiliation to Democrat. 

"We are a Democratic city and I think that is one of the differences between the two us," she said. "Los Angeles and California, I would say with pride, is welcoming people from other places to receive reproductive rights. I think that protecting a woman's right to choose is fundamental."

Caruso responded by saying he has always supported abortion rights. 

"I am pro-choice. I always have been," he said. "I'm clear on the record for decades that government should not be involved in people's right of how they decide on what to do with their body. But let me just say something here, to use the same standards that are used against me... Karen has supported a congressman in Georgia [who is] anti-abortion."

Both candidates did agree that the city was in a crisis. 

The debate was hosted by Fox 11, Univision, KPCC and the Los Angeles Times.

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