Los Angeles mayoral candidates Rep. Karen Bass and developer Rick Caruso faced-off in their first debate Wednesday.

“I think…it is very clear that we need a new direction,” Bass said.

“I believe our city is in trouble and I want to help,” Caruso said.

Much of the debate focused on two key issues to voters: increasing homelessness and crime.

“At a certain point in time, you’re going to have to move encampments off the streets because our neighborhoods are so heavily impacted, and you’ll never get crime under control unless you deal with homelessness,” Caruso said.

“We also need to hire officers. We need to bring LAPD up to its authorized, budgeted amount, which is about 9,700 officers,” Bass said.

The Caruso wasted no time in going after Bass and her ties to USC, where she received a scholarship worth almost $100,000. Another scholarship led to the indictment of former L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and the former dean of USC’s social work program on bribery and fraud charges.

Bass has denied wrongdoing.

“She got a degree taking less classes than other students took, and then worked with the dean to fashion legislation and pushed through Congress to have taxpayer dollars go back to that same school. She is named critical in a federal bribery corruption case,” Caruso said.

Bass also brought up Caruso’s ties to USC, where he served as chair of the Board of Trustees as the school paid out about $1 billion in settlements related to a campus gynecologist accused of sexual assault.

“I would say the victims of the gynecologist who sexually assaulted hundreds of students at USC have asked you to release the report. As chair of the Board of Trustees, he committed to doing an investigation, to do a report, then decided afterward not to release it,” she said.

Recent polling shows Caruso trailing Bass. Election Day is Nov. 8.