Home>Articles>Caruso, Bass Hold More Civil Debate In Wake Of LA Council’s Racist Remarks Scandal

Caruso, Bass Hold More Civil Debate In Wake Of LA Council’s Racist Remarks Scandal

Scandal dominates first half of LA Mayoral debate

By Evan Symon, October 12, 2022 12:31 pm

Los Angeles Mayoral candidates Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA) and real estate developer Rick Caruso met for a third debate Tuesday night at the Brokaw News Center in Universal City, spending around half the debate on the recent LA City Council racial comments scandal currently sweeping the city.

Held in late September and earlier this month respectively, the first two debates between Caruso and Bass largely focused on crime, homelessness, and housing. While other issues were also brought up, including Bass’ recent USC corruption and bribery accusations, the primary points were those three issues.

Initially, the third debate appeared it would also go that way, with both candidates prepping beforehand for similar questions. However, the release of an October 2021 recording of then-City Council President Nury Martinez, Councilmembers Kevin de Leon and Gil Cedillo, and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera making multiple racial comments during a redistricting meeting and the subsequent political and public furor over it, dominated the third debate.

Los Angeles Mayoral Candidate Rick Caruso speaks in a campaign event. Sept. 15, 2022. (Photo: Ringo Chiu, Shutterstock)

Both Caruso and Bass reiterated points they made earlier in the week by wanting all three Councilmembers to resign and to conduct an investigation.

“There needs to be an investigation, and those officials must resign,” said Bass. “But that’s not enough. We need a new direction in LA and new leadership that will make sure we reject the politics of divide and conquer.”

However, Caruso added that in addition to the resignations and an investigation, that the action of City Councilors making their own districts needs to be stopped.

“We have to get to it immediately,” noted Bass. “I do think the pressure is going to weigh on them, and they will resign, but the city cannot be in a standstill like this. You saw what happened at city council today.”

Caruso added that the LA system of government is broken and, in a swipe at Bass’ ongoing USC corruption accusations, added that anyone under a ‘clout of corruption’ should not be qualified for a leadership position.

“I think it’s the job of the mayor to make sure we’re not going to have chaos while this is going on,” added Caruso. “This is what leadership is all about. We have a system that is literally broken, and it’s been broken for a long time. It’s full of corruption. I think anybody who is under a cloud of corruption should not be qualified to be in a leadership position. Especially now. That’s why there’s tension throughout this city. It’s because of the failure of leadership.”

Bass v. Caruso: Round Three

While the first half of the debate was all about the scandal, the second half returned to issues stressed in previous debates, such as homelessness, crime, and drug use. While most of the points were covered in previous debates, a few new positions on issues came up.

A question over the 2024 ballot measure that would force hotels to give vacant rooms to homeless people was met with rejection by both candidates. However, both candidates were split on giving a pledge to not raise taxes for homeless issues, if elected Mayor. Caruso agreed to the pledge while Bass did not. While Bass said that not agreeing to the pledge didn’t mean that she would raise taxes and that it would only remain there as a last resort if nothing else worked, Caruso immediately fired back “That means you’re going to raise taxes.”

Overall, most commentators on Tuesday and Wednesday noted a much calmer and more civil tone to the debate as compared to the last two.

“With such a serious scandal, both candidates didn’t want to further divide the city and instead stressed unity and denouncing both racism and the Councilmembers in this scandal,” explained Jan Ives, a Washington-based local election analyst, in a Globe interview Wednesday. “Regardless where you are politically, that much should be applauded. Neither Bass nor Caruso wanted this situation to get any worse.”

“And they didn’t have much time to prepare for the debate, meaning that a lot of what you saw up there was raw. Both stumbled at times up there during the questions over the scandal, but it was a real moment with Bass and Caruso the people, not Bass and Caruso the politicians. Of course they were disgusted and angry, and their comments were not exactly sanded down.”

“The big difference to most people was what the candidates said they would do. Bass wanted a more community approach, while Caruso wanted to challenge the very system more and focus on corruption. Caruso could have easily pointed out how Martinez supports Bass as Mayor or Bass noting Cedillo’s support of Caruso. But they didn’t. It was instead more raw and a ‘what you are in the dark’ moment for both. Bass wanted to calm the city by going down to the community level, with Caruso wanting to continue looking into City Hall and exposing more corruption.”

“I think Caruso once again came a little ahead of Bass though. It was great to see them both being more civil, but Caruso’s points about further corruption, about stating for months wanting redistricting changes, and nailing Bass on the homeless tax pledge showed him to be a bit more on the ball and pragmatic.”

“So I would walk away with that and the fact that both candidates showed what they would do in a crisis as Mayor And let’s be realistic, a scandal that will still be rocking the city by the time one of them is sworn in.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, neither Martinez, de Leon, or Cedillo have resigned from office. Election Day is to be held on Tuesday,  November 8th.

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Evan Symon
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2 thoughts on “Caruso, Bass Hold More Civil Debate In Wake Of LA Council’s Racist Remarks Scandal

  1. Disappointed a bit with Caruso’s performance. He should have stressed that Bass is of the machine, beholden to the machine, has done nothing to change the machine, and was endorsed by Nury (and Kuehl) who are both corrupt creatures of the machine as well.
    It cannot be forgotten that this was just another day, just another typical conversation, for Nury and Kevin and Ron and Gil and that they felt completely comfortable with using racist epithets during a conversation about race and re-districting. And they did so knowing (since it had never got out before, a pretty safe bet) that they were working for the machine, a machine that has always prompted, promoted, paid, and protected them.
    I guess we’ll wait and see if the Caruso campaign will be rolling out ads and strategically decided to just hold their powder last night.

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