In a formal kickoff of her campaign for mayor in the March election, Councilwoman Jan Perry said Thursday she will not support any new taxes to help balance the city budget and she would seek to freeze employee salaries until the city's structural deficit is under control.
Perry said the city needs to return to its core functions of public safety, parks, libraries, planning and public works.
"When we refocus on the core functions, we can begin to restore and renew our city," said Perry, who first came to Los Angeles in 1973.
Perry, 58, is one of three elected city officials running for mayor, with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa leaving due to term limits. Controller Wendy Greuel and Councilman Eric Garcetti are running for the job, as is former federal prosecutor and radio talk show host Kevin James.
If elected, Perry said she would have an honest discussion with the public and workers over the city's financial problems with its projected $216 million shortfall next year.
To meet that, she said she would ask the unions to forgo raises and to increase their contribution to cover health costs to 10 percent of their salary.
"For too many years, Los Angeles has been plagued by get-along go-along politics and taking the path of least resistance," Perry said. "A path that does not address the hardest questions and passes the buck.
One example she cited is the Department of Water and Power where some workers make 40 percent more than city workers doing the same work. Perry said she would seek to end the pay disparity, which also could reduce the need for higher utility rates.
Perry said she has decided to vote against several tax proposals coming to the council, including a half-percent sales tax and an increase to the documentary transfer taxes.
"I'm running for mayor to end the days of false promises, that grabs a great headline but doesn't deliver," Perry said. "When I am mayor of Los Angeles, we will start living within our means."