Mayoral candidate Rick Caruso spoke Monday night before a small but cheerful and supportive crowd at a well-established and popular Boyle Heights restaurant.

Latinos for Rick Caruso banner outside La Parrilla.

More than two dozen people, many wearing stickers or carrying signs reading “Latinos for Rick Caruso,” packed a dining room at La Parilla Restaurant on César Chávez Ave. La Parrilla owner Karina De La Cerda welcomed attendees, including several Boyle Heights  business owners.

The crowd was prompted to cheer loudly when Caruso entered the room to the tune of Vicente Fernández’s “El Rey.”

Many of them pronounced the candidate’s name in Spanish as they chanted: “Ca-rru-so, Ca-rru-so…”

Mayoral candidate Rick Caruso at Monday’s event.

Caruso spoke of his admiration for the Latino community, which he defined as “the backbone” of the Los Angeles economy, and recalled how his own immigrant Italian grandparents raised their family in Boyle Heights 

“My grandparents came to this country with no money and didn’t know the language, like many here,” Caruso said. “I understand what it is to be an immigrant.”

The candidate elicited more cheers and applause when he touched on some of the themes of his campaign: crime, homelesness and government corruption. He also mentioned his opponent a couple times, implying that Congresswoman Karen Bass had no interest or connection with Latino voters and citing her acceptance of a $95,000 scholarship at USC as a sign of her being a corrupt politician.

“I cannot win this race without the support of Latinos, and I will remember you when I am mayor,” Caruso said before taking questions and comments from the audience.

Questions ranged from issues around inefficient city services to the proposed homeless center at the abandoned Sears tower in Boyle Heights (he said he’s opposed to the project).

After a little over two hours at the restaurant –including a session of handshakes and photographs– the candidate was sent off with chants of “Latinos For Caruso” and “Sí se puede.”

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