LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Nithya Raman and incumbent Los Angeles District 4 City Councilman David Ryu took on each other’s platforms on Wednesday during a virtual debate.
Other leaders in L.A. vying to be re-elected on November 3 also appealed to voters, but the majority of the focus remained on Ryu and Raman.
In opening statements, both democratic candidates in the council race expanded on their campaign goals and for Ryu, he touted his current record.
Raman, who is a Harvard and MIT graduate with an urban planning background, said her focus is on fighting corruption, homelessness, poverty and other crises facing the city and District 4, which stretches from Sherman Oaks to the Miracle Mile.
Raman said her goal remains to be to “run a campaign that put issues forward” and helps increase public awareness about the happenings of the city council.
Ryu lauded what he described as his “FEMA-like emergency response to ending homelessness” and at times downplayed Raman’s involvement as one of the co-founders of the SELAH Neighborhood Homeless Coalition, a nonprofit organization serving of several L.A. communities.
Throughout the debate moderated by L.A.-based journalist Linda Grasso, Ryu asked Raman to clarify her stances and support related to the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).
Ryu’s criticisms were that he disavows the group, which endorsed Raman, because of views expressed by some of its supporters, including the pejorative language that “All Cops Are Bastards” and calls to defund the police.
Raman did not break her alignment with the group but instead insisted that her individual actions of leading with “compassion” and “love” should not be overlooked because of the sentiments some DSA supporters have shared.
Regarding police action, Raman said she supports the addition of unarmed crisis responders for nonviolent 911 calls, which is a measure the L.A. City Council unanimously voted on last week to implement.
Both Ryu and Raman expressed desires to combat homelessness, city corruption, to fight for affordable housing, and they each stood firm on their commitment to caring for the health and wellbeing of residents in District 4.
One point of contention during the debate was Ryu’s accusation that Raman accepts campaign donations from corporations and individuals tied to real estate development or fossil fuels, which Raman denies.
Raman, too, accused Ryu of accepting money from such affiliated individuals or corporations — to which he retorted that any unethical donation that “slips through the cracks” in his campaign is always returned.
Raman, Ryu and the moderator all encouraged voters to independently verify information about campaign expenditures on the city’s ethics website, which can be found here.
Raman commented during the debate that it seemed the moderator was participating in a line of questioning towards her that is a mirror of “the same rhetoric used to criticize progressive candidates across the country.”
She said Ryu’s campaign has been continuously contributing to falsehoods about her record and campaign practices.
Most recently, Ryu this week accused Raman’s representatives of breaking the law at the March 3 primary by campaigning within 100 feet of a polling location.
Raman’s team denied the accusation, saying that Raman has been “extremely diligent in following the letter of the law.”
In the March 3 primary, Ryu finished with 44.7% of the vote and Raman received 41.1%.