USC students share mixed feelings about Rick Caruso’s mayoral candidacy

The USC chair of the board of trustees is joining a crowded race of candidates.

[A photo of Rick Caruso smiling in front of reporters.]

The next mayor of Los Angeles could be someone with deep ties to USC.

He’s the USC chair of the board of trustees and you may have seen his name around campus at the Caruso Catholic Center or the Caruso Department of Otolaryngology.

Now Rick Caruso’s name will likely be on the June 7 ballot for mayor after the businessman jumped into the race on Friday.

Caruso graduated from the Marshall School of Business in 1980 and all four of his children followed suit and studied at USC. With such a deep relationship to USC, Caruso might expect to enjoy a base of support on campus, but a number of current students said they are not sure about their fellow Trojan’s platform or why he is running.

Alan Enriquez is from Chicago, but as a USC student studying law, history and culture, he holds some concerns for the mayoral election and Caruso’s end goal for running.

“My question is: Why is he [running]?” Enriquez said. “That’s my only skepticism because you have a lot of money, you have a lot of power, you own a lot of L.A. already in terms of jobs and real estate and stuff. I just don’t get why.”

Stephy Reyes, a lifelong L.A. resident and sophomore cognitive science major, shares similar concerns behind Caruso’ intention to run and questions his relatability as a billionaire. Despite this, Reyes believes that there is some potential in his real estate background to combat homelessness in the city.

Homelessness has been a major point of contention for this election cycle. Residents are upset with how current elected officials have handled the issue and want to see actionable plans with concrete steps to fight this long-time problem in the city, according to the L.A. Times.

“If his campaign were to revolve around doing more or building more health centers, or mental health resources like rehab, then I think I would be for it,” Reyes said. “I know he has the capability if he has all these details and he’s a developer, so it’s not out of the question.”

For the past decade, Caruso was registered as an independent. Before that, he was a contributor to both Democratic and Republican candidates, including Mitt Romney and Mitch McConnell. This election, he is campaigning as a “pro-centrist, pro-jobs, pro-public safety Democrat.” In a Jan. 24 Twitter post, Caruso outlined his intent to create businesses that will stimulate job creation and growth and approach homelessness as a “city-threatening crisis.”

Still, a number of USC students were uncertain whether Caruso, a billionaire, can relate to what Angelenos and students navigate in their daily lives.

“L.A. is just such a massive place in general, and there are so many communities that you have to take care of and represent when you’re an official representing L.A,” Salma Durra, a sophomore studying biochemistry, said.

Caruso is joining a crowded field of Democrats, which includes another USC alum Congresswoman Karen Bass, former U.S. Senate candidate Kevin de León, City Attorney Mike Feuer and City Councilman Joe Buscaino. The filing deadline is March 9.