Mayoral candidates respond to Villaraigosa’s education charges

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Mayoral candidates Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel.

Mayoral candidates Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel.

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – City Controller Wendy Greuel challenged City Councilman Eric Garcetti, her opponent in the mayor’s race, to an impromptu debate on education today, one day after outgoing Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa admonished the pair for skirting the subject.

The Garcetti campaign quickly dismissed Greuel’s challenge, calling it a “political stunt.”

Greuel, who was already planning an afternoon campaign event at Camino Nuevo Charter High School, called on Garcetti to join her, insisting she was “ready to debate today.”

Greuel’s proposed debate would have conflicted with Garcetti’s afternoon news conference with Kevin James, Jan Perry and Emanuel Pleitez, all former mayoral hopefuls who have endorsed him.

“Rather than holding a political press conference calling for an education debate, let’s use that time to have an education debate,” Shannon Murphy, Greuel’s spokeswoman, wrote in a letter to Garcetti spokesman Jeff Millman.

Millman called the challenge “another political stunt from Controller Greuel, just like her claim to have found $160 million in waste, fraud and abuse.”

Millman said Tuesday the Garcetti campaign would work with Greuel’s to set up an education-focused debate in May. He said Garcetti has accepted an invitation from the Urban League and public radio station KCRW to debate education policy with Greuel.

The focus on education came in response to Villaraigosa’s state of the city address, during which the outgoing mayor said the issue should be a higher priority for the candidates.

Education policy is “personal for me,” Villaraigosa said, and not a “footnote on a campaign mailer or fodder for an attack ad.”

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