LA County’s 3rd District candidates discuss their vision at forum

At a forum on Tuesday at UCLA, the two candidates running to represent L.A. County’s 3rd District stressed the importance of having experience while in office, but clashed on the types of experience they considered most valuable.

While candidate Bobby Shriver, a former mayor of Santa Monica, said his previous work leading the city will help the L.A. County Board of Supervisors run like a local venture, candidate Sheila Kuehl, a former state senator, said her experience managing big budgets as a state legislator would serve her well at the county level.

The UCLA-hosted forum was the first debate the candidates have participated in since the primary election in June. The 3rd District, which L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky has represented since 1994, includes Westwood and UCLA. If elected, the supervisor sits on a five-member board that oversees the county’s government.

Moderated by NBC L.A. anchorman Conan Nolan, Tuesday’s forum featured panelist questions and candidate responses about a number of local topics, including economic development and transportation projects.

On the issue of transportation, the forum discussion mainly focused on funding for the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, commonly known as Metro.

On Monday, the Metro raised its fares from $1.50 to $1.75 for a single ride, and free transfer rides within a two-hour period of taking the Metro. The Metro said it made the change to raise more money to support the system, which faces a deficit of an estimated $36.8 million by the 2017 fiscal year.

The supervisor also sits in the Metro’s Board of Directors, which has the power to raise fares and set the Metro’s annual budget. Both candidates said they supported the recent Metro fare increase.

Shriver advocated for free Metro rides for college students to boost the number of Metro users and hopefully free up freeway traffic. Kuehl said a tunnel under the 405 Freeway, which some transportation advocates have previously discussed, may provide traffic relief.

Candidates said they want to have the Metro Express line 588, which will extend from Sherman Oaks to Westwood once construction is finished, run more regularly, especially on the weekends.

Metro plans for the the line, which may be launched late this year, to run on the 405 Freeway’s newly created High Occupancy Vehicle lane only during peak weekday periods.

At the forum, both candidates also discussed their visions for encouraging economic development in the region.

Shriver said he wants to improve the business climate for small businesses by easing local regulations, while Kuehl said she is skeptical about providing significant tax relief to companies.

Both candidates said they support another minimum wage increase. They added that they think it is a “myth” that minimum wage hikes would cause layoffs.

The candidates will face each other again in other debates before the election on Nov. 4.

Compiled by Jeong Park, Bruin senior staff.

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