Los Angeles mayoral candidates excluded from debate over organizers of explosion – Daily News
The four mayoral candidates who gathered on the Cal State Los Angeles campus on Tuesday (April 12) may disagree on how to run the city and which of them should be in charge.
But that day, they agreed on one thing: they should be included in an upcoming mayoral debate to be aired on ABC7.
That debate, scheduled for May 1, will feature five candidates — a congresswoman, the city attorney, two city council members and a billionaire developer. That’s even though Los Angeles voters will actually choose from a pool of 12 mayoral candidates who qualified for the June 7 primary ballot, along with some written hopefuls.
That means less than half of those who qualified for the ballot are ready to advance to the debate stage, said Gina Viola, one of the contestants who was not invited to the event.
“Under the rules of the election, I am just as qualified to be on the ballot as any of the frontrunners,” Viola said, adding that “restricting access to debate weakens the democratic process. This puts voters at a disadvantage by limiting the information available to them.
Viola joined other excluded candidates – social justice advocate Alex Gruenenfelder, business leader Craig Greiwe and realtor Mel Wilson – at the university on Tuesday to protest the organizer’s decision not to invite them to the debate.
One of the debate’s organizers, the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, is located on the Cal State LA campus. The League of Women Voters of Greater Los Angeles is co-hosting the event.
The candidates took aim at the two groups, known for their work promoting civic engagement, accusing them of arbitrarily excluding candidates. They called the move harmful to the democratic process, by helping to restrict the information available to voters, they argued.
Candidates were included in the debate based on their ability to demonstrate “significant voter interest and support, as evidenced by publicly available polling data, media coverage, endorsements and fundraising,” according to the criteria released this weekend by the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs. and the League of Women Voters of Greater Los Angeles.
On Tuesday, the excluded candidates questioned that criteria and said the decision could only be based on outdated campaign finance reports and polls months old because that was the only information available at the time. .
Media decisions about which candidates they decide to run more than others also affect the ability of some candidates to meet the criteria for debate.
On Tuesday, several major media were present at the press conference called by the candidates.
Meanwhile, Viola and others pointed out Tuesday that a UC Berkeley poll released just a day earlier showed two of the included candidates doing essentially neither better nor worse than her and others.
Viola polled at 2%. Councilman Joe Buscaino and City Attorney Mike Feuer – both included in the debate and benefiting from much larger campaign funding and greater name recognition – voted 1% and 2%, respectively. .
The same Berkeley poll also found that nearly 40% of voters are undecided, so while there were two frontrunners – Rep. Karen Bass and billionaire developer Rick Caruso – who each polled just over 20%, there are many more people who have their options open.
Councilman Kevin de Leon – who is also included in the debate and has raised about as much as Bass based on the December campaign finance report – voted 6%.
Viola said this latest poll shows she “deserves at least as much to have the opportunity to be heard and to be seen as a viable option.”
“We all are,” she added, referring to the other three excluded contestants.
Pat Brown Institute executive director Raphael Sonenshein said in response to Tuesday’s protest that the debates were not expected to include all qualified candidates.
“It’s a choice,” he said. “And part of that choice has to do with what you think is the most effective way for voters to hear about the candidates most likely to win, especially towards the end of the campaign.”
The decision to include only some of the contestants “has nothing to do with restricting anyone’s speech”, he added.
Greiwe blamed Sonenshein, for leading the decision-making, saying he said “don’t tell you who to vote for – he makes sure you don’t even hear from us in the first place”.
Sonenshein replied that he was not the sole arbiter of who was included in the debate — rather, it was the collective decision of the League of Women Voters, ABC7 and the Pat Brown Institute.
The four excluded candidates meanwhile won the support of former Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine, who joined the candidates at Cal State LA on Tuesday.
“Well, if we’re an open society and a democracy, and people make the effort to finally get out there and get signatures and file like they have to with the clerk’s office, they should have that opportunity. to engage in debate,” he said. “They can have unique ideas, wonderful ideas.”
Candidates also argued Tuesday that because of the serious and complex issues facing the city, from homelessness to corruption scandals, there are even more reasons for voices not already part of the establishment are heard during the debate.
“You shouldn’t have to be a billionaire to become mayor of our great city,” Gruenenfelder said.