2022 L.A. mayoral election: Bass-Caruso debate live updates
An end to the eviction moratorium?
Buss and Caruso are asked if they should extend the eviction moratorium from the city of Los Angeles. The businessman says yes, but he wants more verification that those who are not paying rent need to better verify that they lack the ability to not pay rent.
Bass said he would extend the moratorium and said we should also extend other programs — like Project Rumki — that came in during Covid-19. He also said that landlords should also seek help.
Abortion — an issue that usually rarely features in L.A. local elections — has cast a long shadow over the race since the Supreme Court’s planned decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked just before the primary.
Bass invoked the ghosts of abortion rights, and Caruso’s Republican past, when he described himself as “a lifelong pro-choice Democrat” in his opening reply.
Asked about the role reproductive rights will play for LA’s mayor, Bass described the issue as a “values question,” whether or not the city is involved in managing health care.
Caruso — whose past donations to anti-abortion politicians have been the subject of frequent attacks during the race — hit hard.
First, he made his position clear to voters, saying, “I’m pro-choice, I always have been.”
He then said the “same standard” being used against him applied to the bus. He said Bass donated to a member of Congress from Georgia who supported the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal Medicaid funding for abortions. (Times reporters are verifying the allegations.)
Caruso has been outspoken about his support for abortion rights on the campaign trail, but his previous donations include more than $240,000 A super PAC support John Kasichthe GOP’s presidential run in 2016; $100,000 in support of a PAC President George W. Bushre-elected in 2004; $50,000 to PAC supporters Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) in 2017; and $4,300 to a committee supporting Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in 2007. Caruso contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Republican Party committees between 2003 and 2017.
Caruso cited his repeated promise to build 30,000 units in his first year in office. To realize this expensive plan, he wants to build tiny houses for 15,000 people and house another 15,000 people temporarily in “sleeping pods” in existing structures, such as warehouses and empty buildings.
Housing will cost an estimated $843 million in the first year to construct or acquire and prepare for occupancy. He declined to estimate operating costs to house 30,000 people, but a Times analysis of city documents found it would cost about $660 million a year, or about $22,000 per person.
Bass criticized Caruso’s plan, saying it was only about transitional housing and did not offer a balanced approach. He also put forward his own plan to bring 15,000 people in, trying to do away with the current system as much as possible to expand both temporary and permanent housing, albeit on a much smaller scale than Caruso envisioned.
He would build new shelter beds to accommodate about 1,000 people, expand the use of housing vouchers, lease and buy motels and hotels, and try other approaches. The price tag will be $292 million in the first year, including construction costs and operating costs for shelter beds.
“Shelter centers have become so dangerous that people don’t even want to stay in shelters and prefer to live outside on the streets, so we have transitional housing, but it has to be very limited in time and we have to do it. Put people in permanent supportive housing,” Bass said.
Both candidates talked about how shelters could be problematic.
Caruso recently cited Research The Rand Corporation advises that congregate shelters are not the preferred destination for homeless people. Less than a third of those surveyed in Hollywood, Skid Row and Venice said “group shelter” was an acceptable housing option.
What is the biggest difference between you and your opponent?
Bass mentioned homelessness and clarified that he is “a lifelong pro-choice Democrat.” He added that he thinks “we can have a city where people aren’t priced out of housing but actually come.”
In Caruso’s answer to this question, he invites his grandparents from Boyle Heights before mentioning homelessness and crime. “LA has always been the place where big dreams come true.”
Karen Bass and Rick Caruso face off in Skirball
Less than seven weeks before the Nov. 8 election, Rep. Karen Bass and real estate developer Rick Caruso face off in their first head-to-head debate tonight at the Skirball Cultural Center.
Both campaigns have gone into battle mode in recent weeks, with Caruso and Bass attacking each other’s character and policies. It will be their first time parrying sleeves without a crowd of other candidates at their side, and it’s unclear what their dynamic will be – or how negative the candidates will be willing to be.
The debate — which is sponsored by the Times, Univision, KPCC, the Skirball Cultural Center, the Los Angeles Urban League and Loyola Marymount University — is led by Times columnist Erica D. Smith and Fox 11 News anchor Alex Michaelson are directing
The Los Angeles County sheriff’s race preceded the debate between two candidates, Sheriff Alex Villanueva and retired Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna. Caruso greeted Villanueva as the sheriff left the stage. “Looks like you did a good job,” Caruso told him. He also congratulated Luna.
About 200 people are at the skirball venue. Onlookers included city councilman and former mayoral candidate Joe Buscaino and Loyola Marymount University students, visible in their red and white T-shirts.
Bass finished the June primary with a seven-point lead, and an August poll from the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, co-sponsored by The Times, showed him leading Caruso by 12 percentage points.
But nearly a quarter of Los Angeles voters are still undecided, according to polls, and Wednesday’s debate offers a potentially decisive opportunity for Caruso and Bass to reintroduce themselves to voters just three weeks before general election ballots are cast.