Firing the first salvo in the runoff campaign, 5th District City Council candidate Mike Feuer accused Barbara Yaroslavsky on Tuesday of trying to limit the number of debates the two will attend prior to the June 6 runoff--a charge that Yaroslavsky's camp calls ludicrous.
Feuer, former director of a legal services clinic, based his charges on a letter that Yaroslavsky sent Monday requesting a meeting with Feuer's representatives to discuss the upcoming debate schedule.
Rejecting the request for a meeting, Feuer called the letter "a transparent attempt to limit the number of debates."
The charge revives a sensitive issue for Yaroslavsky, who came under harsh attack by her opponents during the primary for missing nearly a dozen campaign debates, fueling speculation that she was trying to win solely on her name recognition. Yaroslavsky's husband, Zev, held the 5th District council post for 19 years before resigning last year to become a county supervisor.
Yaroslavsky's campaign consultant, Rick Taylor, called the charges "ludicrous and ridiculous," saying that she attended 16 debates during the primary and plans to attend many others during the runoff campaign.
Despite assurances that Yaroslavsky will participate in debates, Taylor said he doesn't consider them a crucial part of the campaign because he said most people who attend the forums have already decided who they will vote for.
Instead, he said Yaroslavsky will concentrate on getting her campaign message out by attending 15 small districtwide gatherings with voters.
These so-called "coffees" at the homes of voters will provide an opportunity to question Yaroslavsky on crucial Los Angeles city issues without the back-and-forth motions of a debate, Taylor said.
Taylor, a veteran campaign strategist, was hired Friday after Yaroslavsky came in second to Feuer in last week's primary.
Although she was considered the front-runner due to her name recognition, high-profile endorsement by Mayor Richard Riordan and a substantial fund-raising lead, Yaroslavsky drew only 26% of the vote, compared to 39% for Feuer.