Los Angeles mayoral candidates
Where they stand
In January, The Times sent questions to the eight candidates for Los Angeles mayor. Click the issue list at left to see their responses, which are abridged but otherwise unedited. Some are summarized, but include a link to their answers.
The economy and development
The next mayor faces a projected $327-million budget shortfall in 2014-2015. The city’s budget advisor called last year for a new round of layoffs and for key city assets to be turned over to private operators. A former mayor has even suggested the city is heading for bankruptcy.
1. Do you support the March 5 ballot measure that would raise the sales tax by half a cent to generate $215 million a year for city accounts?
2. If you oppose the sales tax, what city programs would you eliminate or scale back?
3. Is new revenue essential to fixing city finances? If so, what kind would you seek?
4. Do you support laying off additional city employees as a way to balance city finances?
5. To spur business activity, is it necessary to eliminate the city’s gross receipts tax? If that were done, how would you make up the revenue?
6. Do you believe city employees should make additional concessions on employee salaries, pensions or benefits? If so, how? If not, why not?
7. Do you believe future employee retirement benefits for city workers should be provided through a 401(k) plan, as many private-sector employers have done? Why or why not?
8. What current services, if any, do you believe the city can no longer afford to provide?
The economy and development
Los Angeles’ 10.9% unemployment rate is still one the highest among U.S. big cities. And many of the post-recession jobs being created are part-time, low-skilled positions.
1. Do you have any plan to immediately bring jobs to the city, boost the middle class in particular and lower unemployment?
2. Apart from construction jobs and the movie industry, do you have any plan to grow the job pool by drawing new industries to the city?
3. Do you believe Los Angeles must provide tax subsidies or exemptions to attract new development?
4. Do you believe in fostering transit-oriented development?
5. Business leaders complain that the City Hall permit and inspection process continues to be a tangle of red tape. What would you do to make it easier for businesses to come to, and operate in, the city?
6. How important do you think AEG’s downtown stadium plan is to the city’s overall development?
7. Do you believe that having a professional football team would bring in new revenue and not just move revenue from one type of entertainment to another?
Some say the expansion of the LAPD has strained budgets to such a degree that the city must lay off additional civilian employees. Lawsuits continue to dog the LAPD. The fire chief blames budget cuts for declining response times, which he admits he cannot reliably track.
1. Should the LAPD continue to hire officers to replace those who resign or retire, keeping staffing levels the same? If not, should the department be larger or smaller? If you believe it should be larger, how would you pay for that?
2. Will you ask Police Chief Charlie Beck to serve a second term?
3. Do you agree with Chief Beck’s decision to make it easier for unlicensed drivers — many of them illegal immigrants — to keep their vehicles from being impounded for long periods?
4. Do you believe the LAPD is doing enough to lower the cost and frequency of use-of-force, harassment and traffic-related lawsuits against the department? If not, what should be changed?
5. Do you believe police officer disciplinary hearings and records should be open to the public or kept secret?
6. The city will soon begin negotiating a new contract for the LAPD’s 10,000 officers. Should that contract continue to require that officers take compensated time off in lieu of overtime pay? If so, how much?
7. Do you have confidence in the administration of Fire Chief Brian Cummings?
8. Do you support a plan to convert LAFD dispatch-center employees from 24-hour shifts to a 40-hour work week?
9. Should the LAFD dispatch center be staffed by civilian workers instead of sworn employees?
10. What would you do to speed response times, especially in those parts of the city — such as hillside communities and around the city’s border — where responses are slowest?
The Measure R sales tax is generating billions of dollars for road and rail construction, including a Westside subway extension, but efforts to speed work with additional money have fallen short. There is still no rail to LAX, and traffic on the Westside has even caused President Obama to express dismay.
1. Do you believe Metro should try again to win an extension of Measure R, similar to the Measure J ballot proposal that failed in November?
2. Do you agree with advocates who call for changing the voter threshold for taxes on transportation projects to be lowered from two-thirds to 55%?
3. Will you give rail development the same emphasis that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has?
4. Mayor Villaraigosa was sometimes criticized for prioritizing rail projects over the county’s bus system. What role do you think the bus system should play?
5. Do you believe rail is the most cost-effective way to improve transportation in the city?
6. Do you believe that a “subway to the sea” — the Westside subway extension — is necessary?
7. What route should Metro select for the Westside subway as it passes through Century City?
8. Should more toll lanes be placed on Los Angeles freeway carpool lanes?
9. For decades transit officials have debated an extension of the 710 Freeway through South Pasadena. Should it be built, and if so, how?
10. Do you favor moving the north runways at LAX closer to Westchester? If so, why?
11. What improvements are still needed at LAX?
12. Would you sell or give up control over Ontario International Airport? If so, why?
13. Do you think the city needs to privatize its parking garages?
14. The city has a growing bicycle movement. What are your feelings about bicyclists in L.A., and what needs to be done/not done to accommodate them on L.A.’s roads?
15. At least 42% of the city’s sidewalks are in poor shape, and lawsuits may force the city to spend huge sums to repair them. What would you do to fix the city’s streets and sidewalks?
The largest school system in California struggles with low test scores and graduation rates. LAUSD teachers and administrators disagree on evaluation methods. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa attempted a takeover but settled for running a limited number of campuses.
1. How would you describe the state of the Los Angeles Unified School District?
2. Will you continue to oversee the nonprofit that runs Mayor Villaraigosa’s 15 schools?
3. Will you try to have the same level of political involvement and influence over the school board by fielding candidates and helping to pay for their campaigns?
4. How would you evaluate the performance of Superintendent John Deasy?
5. Mayor Villaraigosa has said that student test scores should account for at least 30% of a teacher’s evaluation. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
6. What are the top three things you could do to help improve the school system as mayor?
7. Should every charter school have a teacher workforce that is represented by a union?
8. How many additional charter schools should LAUSD allow?
Power costs are rising as the DWP moves from coal to renewable fuels. The Supreme Court is weighing lawsuits over the port’s clean-truck program. Advocates for green spaces say more parks are needed. Developers are pushing back at state environmental impact laws.
1. Some projections provided to the city forecast that the DWP will have at least 10 consecutive years of rate hikes as the utility complies with regulations and moves toward more renewable power. What would you do to address these rising costs?
2. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pledged to wean the DWP off coal by 2020. But the DWP’s projections show the utility will still be receiving 28% of its energy from coal by that date. Would you uphold Villaraigosa’s pledge? If so, how would you achieve it?
3. The Supreme Court is poised to consider challenges to the port’s clean-truck program, particularly as it relates to regulations on owner-operated trucks. Do you support the program as passed by the Harbor Commission?
4. Do you support the Southern California Intermodal Gateway project in the Port of Los Angeles? How would you address concerns from activists that the project would significantly harm neighbors, both in terms of air quality and traffic?
5. Should the California Environmental Quality Act be rewritten, as many real estate developers have suggested, to reduce the financial impact of legal challenges over environmental impact reports? If so how?
6. Anschutz Entertainment Group, the developer of a proposed downtown football stadium, received special state legislation that allowed its project to have an accelerated environmental review process. Should every business receive such treatment? Why or why not?
7. Advocates for green space contend that Los Angeles needs more parks. Yet the city has been struggling to maintain the parkland that it already has. How would you improve the maintenance of those that already exist while adding new parkland in coming years?