Only about 13% of registered voters in Los Angeles County showed up to the polls Tuesday, living up — or down — to officials’ expectations and offered few, if any, surprises in the primaries.
Despite an election with potential for widespread leadership change, Tuesday’s turnout was even lower than in 2010 and 2012, when roughly 20% of voters showed up to the polls. At some polling stations Tuesday, short staffing or technical glitches resulted in voters being turned away or forced to wait for hours for ballot stations to be set up.
With 100% of precincts reporting, former U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis pulled in 70% of the votes to win county Supervisor Gloria Molina’s 1st District seat outright. The race in the 3rd District, however, which includes the Westside and much of the San Fernando Valley, appeared to be headed for a November runoff.
Former state lawmaker and child star Sheila Kuehl pulled in 36% of the vote, while former Santa Monica City Councilman and Kennedy family scion Bobby Shriver received 29%. John Duran came in a distant third at 16% and will not be on the runoff ballot.
After decades of little turnover on the L.A. County governing board, Tuesday's election marked the beginning of a new era of changing leadership in the nation's largest local government. Molina and fellow Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky are being pushed out this year by term limits. Two of their veteran colleagues, Don Knabe and Michael D. Antonovich, will retire in 2016, meaning that in just two years, the county — with 10 million residents and a $26-billion budget — with have an almost entirely new lineup of elected leaders.
The incoming supervisors will face difficult policy choices and major financial challenges as they pursue improvements in the troubled child welfare system, guide an overhaul of county jail facilities and implement the federal Affordable Care Act's health system overhaul in the county's network of hospitals and clinics that serves hundreds of thousands of low-income residents.
In the county assessor's race, 12 candidates vied to replace John Noguez, a one-term assessor who is fighting public corruption charges. Jeffrey Prang, a West Hollywood city councilman and special assistant in the assessor's office, received nearly 90,000 votes, or about 18%. He advances to a runoff against prosecutor John Morris, who came in second with 16% of the votes.
On the law enforcement side, Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell, the only major candidate for sheriff without deep ties to the department, got more than three times as many votes as his nearest rival, former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, but it was not enough for him to clear the 50% bar and win outright against six other candidates.
McDonnell claimed 49.1% of the vote to Tanaka's 14.7%, according to the county registrar's office. It was not immediately clear if there were enough provisional or uncounted absentee ballots to change the outcome.
The race is considered one of the most important in the history of the sheriff’s department. Longtime Sheriff Lee Baca abruptly retired in January, a month after federal criminal charges were filed against 18 current and former sheriff's deputies accused of beating jail inmates or trying to obstruct the FBI in an investigation of the county’s jail system.
In Long Beach, City Councilman Robert Garcia won the mayor's race outright with 52% of the vote. Former NFL player Damon Dunn got 47%, a difference of about 1,900 votes. About 17.6% of Long Beach voters turned out for Tuesday’s election.
At 36, Garcia is the youngest and first openly gay man to hold the mayor's office.
And in Orange County, Supervisor Shawn Nelson avoided a November runoff, winning reelection handily, but two other supervisor races will be settled in the fall with head-to-head contests.
Michelle Steel and Assemblyman Allan Mansoor will square off for the 2nd District supervisor seat, and Robert Ming and Lisa Bartlett advanced to a runoff to represent the 5th District, which includes most of south Orange County.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times