Rep. Karen Bass and Rick Caruso will make their pitches to Los Angeles voters Tuesday night in the final debate between the two candidates seeking to become the city’s next mayor.
The landscape of the race to succeed Mayor Eric Garcetti has changed dramatically in the days leading up to Tuesday night’s event at the Brokaw News Center in Universal City — the final live debate ahead of Election Day on Nov. 8. The candidates will take the stage two days after a leaked recording was made public of three City Councilmembers and a now-former top LA County labor official in an October 2021 conversation about redistricting that included several racist remarks.
The fallout began to take shape Sunday afternoon with calls for the resignations of Councilmembers Nury Martinez, Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo, and LA County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera. Martinez stepped down from her role as council president Monday and announced a leave of absence. Herrera has resigned from his position.
Both Bass and Caruso have said all four people in the room should leave office, but there is still much to discuss about a recording that has roiled City Hall.
It was not immediately clear who recorded audio of the conversation, which was first reported by the Los Angeles Times and includes racist comments about a colleague’s young child. The audio, which appeared on Reddit, but was later removed from the site, also includes discussion of efforts to replace Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who’s been indicted on federal corruption charges.
In Rep. Bass’ statement, she said the final debate will be an opportunity to share her plans to move Los Angeles in a new direction.
“To move forward as a city, we must move past the politics of divide and conquer,” Bass said. “There is no place for division and hate in Los Angeles. The challenges we face in our city affect us all — and we must unite around our shared values if we are to overcome them and achieve the common dreams we all have for our families.”
Martinez endorsed Bass in the mayoral race. Cedillo endorsed Caruso. Neither de León nor Herrera have made endorsements.
The fallout continues Tuesday morning, after protests and press conferences demanding accountability. Lauren Coronado reports for Today in LA on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022.
Caruso immediately attempted to connect Bass to the scandal in his initial statement.
“Most of the people involved in this episode have endorsed Karen Bass, I hope she’ll do the right thing and demand for their accountability and renounce the endorsement of those who used hate speech,” Caruso said on Sunday.
Among other comments in the conversation, Martinez belittled Bonin, who is white and has a Black son, and criticized the child for his behavior at a Martin Luther King Day parade, saying Bonin’s son was misbehaving on a float, which might have tipped over if she and the other women on the float didn’t step in to “parent this kid.”
“They’re raising him like a little white kid,” Martinez said. “I was like, ‘this kid needs a beatdown. Let me take him around the corner and then I’ll bring him back.'”
Martinez also called the child “ese changuito,” Spanish for “that little monkey.”
Mayoral Debate: Send Us Your Questions
The debate also is likely to focus on homelessness and several related issues. A surge in violent crime, including attacks involving homeless individuals, and the cost of housing will also be part of the discussion.
The once-crowded Los Angeles mayor’s race is a two-candidate battle between billionaire Caruso and Democratic U.S. Rep. Bass. Twelve candidates made the cut for the primary ballot in June.
Caruso built a fortune investing in high-end shopping centers and resorts. The Republican-turned-Democrat spent millions of that fortune with TV and online ads.
Bass, once considered a possible pick for Joe Biden’s running mate, has strong support from progressive Democrats. The mayor’s race is technically non-partisan.
Both have high-profile endorsements and support from Los Angeles celebrities. Lakers great Earvin “Magic” Johnson is backing Bass. Caruso has support from Snoop Dogg, South LA community organizer Sweet Alice Harris and actress Gwyneth Paltrow.
How to watch the debate between Rep. Karen Bass and Rick Caruso
NBC4 and Telemundo 52 will host the mayoral debate scheduled for 7 p.m. Here’s how to watch.
Over the Air: The event will be broadcast on NBC4 and Telemundo 52.
Connected TV — Streaming on the NBC Los Angeles News channel on Peacock, Roku and Samsung TV Plus, as well as the NBCLA and Telemundo 52 apps on Roku, Fire TV and Apple TV.
NBC4 chief political reporter and News Conference anchor Conan Nolan, NBC4 anchor Colleen Williams and Noticiero Telemundo 52 news anchor Dunia Elvir will moderate the debate, covering in-depth a wide range of critical issues including the economy, housing, homelessness and crime, among other concerns affecting our diverse communities.
The live debate, held at the stations’ home at the Brokaw News Center, will be presented commercial-free in English and Spanish.
What to know about voting in the Nov. 8 election
Voting is already underway in Southern California five months after a June primary that set the stage for some high-stakes runoffs in November. California uses a top-two election format in which only the two leading vote-getters advance to the November general election, regardless of party.
Bass and Caruso were the favorites in the June election.
All eligible voters are sent an election ballot from their county elections office. Voters should receive a ballot in the mail a few weeks ahead of the Nov. 8 Election Day.
If you didn’t, or you want to know what happened to your ballot after returning it, California offers a ballot tracking system. Click here to track your ballot, find out whether you’re registered, locate a polling place and more.
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