L.A. Mayoral Candidates Debate Crime

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A SPATE of violent carjackings, assaults on users of automated teller machines, and two failed ballot initiatives to hire 1,000 more police have helped push crime into the spotlight of the Los Angeles mayor's race.

"The election seems to be turning more on the crime issue than on the issue of jobs at this point," says John Brennan, director of the Los Angeles Times Poll.

City Councilman Michael Woo, who came in second in last month's mayoral primary, leads businessman Richard Riordan in the runoff by eight points, according to a recent poll. But the poll also shows that voters prefer Mr. Riordan's anticrime agenda to Mr. Woo's.

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Woo last week proposed hiring 1,600 more officers over four years through cuts in other spending, budget shifts, and reassignment of desk-bound officers. Riordan, who has already proposed adding 3,000 officers by leasing L.A.'s airport to a private company, has forcefully underlined his idea in recent stump speeches.

But both plans have their critics. Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky says that Woo's plan "would be extraordinarily painful and disruptive to other [city] services" while Riordan's idea is even "more pie in the sky."

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