One day after the City Council tentatively agreed to place a half-cent sales tax hike on the spring ballot, the four leading mayoral candidates criticized the plan Wednesday at a forum in Koreatown.
"I have concerns about going to the public for a sales tax at a time when the public doesn't believe we've done everything that we can do," Greuel said.
Garcetti, who, along with Perry, voted against the motion on Tuesday, also was quick to dismiss the tax proposal, which passed on a 10-4 tally.
"I think we need to have an emphasis on growing our economy," Garcetti said. "We can't tax our way out of this."
The tax hike measure could bring in about $200 million a year to the city. Despite years of cuts, Los Angeles still faces an ongoing deficit, and without a large-scale solution like a sales tax, Police Chief Charlie Beck has reportedly suggested that his department could see officers laid off.
The sales tax could give the cash-strapped city "some breathing room," City Council President Herb Wesson, who supports the tax, said earlier this week.
Already, the city's fiscal hole is quickly becoming a major theme in the 2013 mayor's race. Candidates are routinely asked about the large-scale structural deficits plaguing the city, and whether pension and retirement plan overhauls are needed.
Following the council's actions this week, the proposed sales tax is also likely to become a high-profile issue in the race. The tax proposal would come before voters on March 5, the same day they pick a new mayor to replace termed-out Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
In addition to financial issues, the issue of redistricting dominated Wednesday's forum, which was held at an upscale mall in Koreatown and attended by about 200 people.
Koreatown leaders sued earlier this year after the city leaders approved new district maps -- part of the once-a-decade process of redistricting -- charging that communities of interest weren't kept together and that their neighborhood was divided into different districts.
Councilwoman Perry, who voted against the maps along with Councilman Bernard Parks, vocally criticized the redistricting process.
"There was was no need to chop up communities," Perry said. "It was transactional politics at its worst."
Throughout the forum, candidate James was the only one to attack his opponents. He repeatedly blamed the decisions made by city leaders, including Perry, Garcetti, and Greuel, saying their decisions "have brought us to the cliff's edge."
In a brief interview after the forum, James said he would focus on the sales tax, saying he would campaign actively against it.
Perry also said she would incorporate her stance against the tax as "one of her speaking points" during the campaign.
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