Crime, taxes, the quality of public schools, and the high cost of housing in Los Angeles remain hot topics as voters today will cast ballots to elect either incumbent Mayor James Hahn or Councilmember Antonio Villaraigosa as the city’s next mayor.
Going into today’s election, Hahn was trailing Villaraigosa by 11 points, according to the most recent Los Angeles Times poll.
Although Villaraigosa has demonstrated a strong sense of leadership in terms of what Los Angeles needs, it is difficult to be convinced when both candidates are constantly focusing on what the other has done wrong, said Edward Ruiz, CSUN junior business major.
“I think these elections come down to who has the nastiest dirt on who,” Ruiz said. “It’s really scary that many people are going to make their decision based on these things, without doing real research.”
During the March 28 mayoral debate that took place at CSUN, both candidates threw “low blows” at each other, while they emphasized trust as the determining factor in choosing a mayor, Ruiz said.
“This election definitely comes down to trust,” Ruiz said.
Heather Quintana, junior communication studies major, said a new ad criticizing Villaraigosa for voting against stricter penalties for child abusers does not really tell voters why they should elect Hahn.
“It’s easy to pick on negative aspects because we all have them,” Quintana said. “But how does that ad reflect Hahn’s ability to do any better than he’s already done?”
The Villaraigosa campaign released an ad demonstrating his commitment to public schools and easing traffic by stopping construction during rush hour, she said.
It focused on his abilities and what he stands for, Quintana said.
Kenneth Cantero senior psychology major, said the Villaraigosa campaign has devoted a lot time to accusing Hahn of being involved in corruption.
“It’s gotten nasty on both sides,” Cantero said. “But Hahn has demonstrated his commitment to reducing crime, which is an issue far more important to the Los Angeles community than any accusations made by either side.”
Quintana said recent questions surrounding $47,000 in contributions made by two Florida firms to the Villaraigosa campaign detracts focus from the real issues, which include making Los Angeles safer, something she said Hahn has not done much to improve.
“It’s time to put Los Angeles in the hands of a leader with a clear vision and determination,” Quintana said.
Cantero disagreed, and said Hahn has reduced crime in a way Villaraigosa could not continue, and that change requires a great deal of planning and strategy.
“All changes take time, and Hahn has taken the first step,” Cantero said. “Let him finish.”