Debate Saturday gives LA's Council District 7 voters chance to assess candidates

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The last opportunity for voters in Los Angeles City Council District 7 to see a debate between the two candidates seeking to represent them on the council happens Saturday.

After more than seven months without a voting representative on the council, district voters head to the polls May 16 to pick between the candidates, both experienced in local government.

Monica Rodriguez and Karo Torossian are competing for the seat vacated last year by former City Council member Felipe Fuentes. Fuentes left to become a Sacramento lobbyist and the district has been without a voting representative on the council ever since.

Council President Herb Wesson has been overseeing the district since he appointed himself to the job last September. 

District 7 covers portions of northern Los Angeles, including Sunland, Lake View Terrace, Pacoima and Shadow Hills. The average annual wage in the district is $44,800, far below the city average, according to a 2015 Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce report.

The candidates have faced off several times in the last few weeks (see below to watch the archived debates). They will have their final scheduled debate at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Vaughn G3 Performing Arts Theatre in Pacoima.

For questions about the Saturday debate, call 310-794-6817.

Among the top issues during the debates have been homelessness, the role of special interest campaign donors and high-speed rail. Portions of the district lie within a proposed high-speed rail route that would run from San Diego to Sacramento. 

Rodriguez and Torossian beat out 18 other candidates in the crowded March primary to make it into the runoff. Rodriguez is the former vice president of the Los Angeles Board of Public Works. Torossian is the director of planning and the environment for Councilman Paul Krekorian. 

You can view the most recent past debate, held in Sylmar on April 21 and posted online this week, in two parts here and here.

Among the issues debated was the extent to which the new council member would be available to the public and respond to constituent concerns. Rodriguez committed to monthly meetings at the district's field offices.

Torossian said he'd also hold regular meetings, but would hold them at local businesses. He also gave out his cell phone number to the audience and encouraged residents to call him directly with concerns.

Click here to view the Shadow Hills Property Owners Association candidate forum. 

Click here to view the Sunland Tujunga Neighborhood Council debate. 

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