A few minutes into the first major debate of the Los Angeles mayor's race, candidate Kevin James gestured to his rivals.
"City Hall is broken," he said. "And they broke it."
A former federal prosecutor who is trailing far behind City Controller Wendy Greuel and council members Jan Perry and Eric Garcetti in fundraising, James set the tone for Wednesday night's forum with accusations that his opponents have done too little to cut city costs and have let Los Angeles earn "a national reputation for corruption."
At times on the defensive, the top-tier candidates answered the criticism in exchanges that highlighted their contrasting styles, if not always contrasting views.