November's runoff election to succeed embattled Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez will pit an office insider against an outsider.
Jeffrey Prang, a West Hollywood city councilman and special assistant in the assessor's office, topped the field of 12 candidates vying for the post in Tuesday's primary election, with 18% of the vote. John Morris, a prosecutor in the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, came in second with 16%.
Because no candidate received a majority of the vote, Prang and Morris will face each other in a runoff.
Noguez is fighting criminal charges that he took bribes in exchange for helping to lower property tax bills. Although he is still officially the county assessor, Noguez is on paid leave from running the office day to day, and did not seek reelection. Nearly all of the candidates to replace him — most of them appraisers in the office — ran on reform platforms.
Morris said he thinks that his outsider status and background prosecuting white-collar crimes as former head of the district attorney's healthcare fraud division will help him in the campaign.
"The context of this election is framed by John Noguez, and I think voters will look for someone with no connection to Noguez," he said.
Prang, who was hired by Noguez in 2012 to handle public affairs, contends that he has played a key role in stabilizing the assessor's office, including brokering Noguez' exit from its daily operations. He described himself as both "an insider and an outsider."
"I think what's very clear and was demonstrated through votes last night was the people of L.A. County want somebody running the office of the assessor who understands and has experience in the office of the assessor," Prang said. "It's a very complex office … that requires somebody that has experience and knowledge of the office to be effective."
Prang led the field in fundraising during the primary, with about $300,000 flowing into his campaign and to an independent expenditure committee set up to support him, while Morris raised about $100,000.