L.A. mayor’s race: Garcetti, Greuel remain far ahead of the pack
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With more than three-fourths of precincts reporting in the race for mayor of Los Angeles, City Councilman Eric Garcetti and Controller Wendy Greuel held a firm grip as the top choices by voters.
The top-two finishers in Tuesday’s election will face off in a May 21 runoff election. Garcetti and Greuel emerged as the early front-runners in the race, polls showed, and have held onto those positions as ballots were counted into the early morning hours on Wednesday.
Standing on a stage lined with supporters Tuesday evening, Garcetti thanked the crowd for their help and said he’s ready to get to work on winning the runoff election in May. Garcetti held a slim margin over Greuel and a significant lead over the six other candidates in the mayoral race, returns showed.
“We have the most votes tonight, and it looks like we are heading to a runoff,” he said. “I’m ready to work as hard as it takes, I’m ready to get up as early as it takes. Tomorrow we’re going to get up, we’re going to get to work, and we’re going to win this campaign.”
Greuel took the stage at 11 p.m. after being introduced by Assembly Speaker John Pérez to chants of “Wendy! Wendy! Wendy!”
“Although not all the votes are in, it sure looks good,” Greuel said. She thanked the other candidates: “After 42 debates, I know what your priorities are. In fact, I could probably recite your best lines.”
“We’re 11 weeks from making history, electing the first woman mayor,” Greuel said. “And, of course, the first mom.”
Councilwoman Jan Perry and attorney Kevin James appeared to be in a dead heat for third place, the vote count showed.
Emanuel Pleitez on Tuesday night conceded defeat as early returns showed he was capturing just a sliver of the vote.
‘I concede that I am not going to be one of the top two, but I think it will be a respectable showing,’ he said as he arrived at the M Bar in Boyle Heights to wait for the results with staff and supporters. ‘I’m feeling proud of what we accomplished, the issues we raised, the people we inspired and motivated in the city. At every turn, especially these last few days, there were people saying thank you for running, thank you for challenging the status quo.’
The vote for a measure to add a half-cent to the city’s sales tax trailed -- and the vote against the tax appeared to be widening as more ballots were tallied. The increase, Proposition A, would bring sales taxes in Los Angeles to 9.5%, one of the highest rates in the state, and raise $200 million a year for the city treasury.
In the race for city attorney, incumbent Carmen Trutanich, who lost a bid for L.A. County district attorney last year, was trailing former Assemblyman Mike Feuer. The race for controller remained too close to call, with City Councilman Dennis Zine running neck-and-neck with businessman Ron Galperin. Both of those races appear to be headed for a May runoff.
In the slew of races for Los Angeles City Council, incumbents Paul Koretz on the Westside and Joe Buscaino in the Harbor district held major leads, vote tallies showed.
Eight of the City Council’s 15 seats are up for grabs, setting the stage for the most dramatic change on the city’s legislative body in a dozen years. With incumbents stepping down in six of those eight races, dozens of candidates stepped forward to seek seats on the council.
The free-for-all council race to represent Hollywood-Silver Lake district remained up for grabs. A dozen political hopefuls are running for that seat, which was represented by city councilman and current mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti. The leaders in that race were former Garcetti aide Mitch O’Farrell and John Choi, a former member of the city’s Board of Public Works.
In a district stretching from Westchester to Pacific Palisades, Mike Bonin had a strong lead and appeared likely to win the seat outright -- without a runoff election. Bonin served as chief of staff to the district’s current councilman, Bill Rosendahl, who is giving up the Westside council seat to focus on his fight against cancer.
Before the polls opened Tuesday, the city clerk’s office had received 148,846 mail-in ballots from voters in the city, or 8.2% of the total number of registered voters. More voters voted by mail than in the first round of either the 2001 or 2005 city elections, but there are also many more residents who received mail ballots this year than in those elections.
Of the total 663,086 mail-in ballots issued this year, 22.4% had been returned by the start of election day. In 2001 and 2005, a much higher percentage of ballots — about half — had been returned by election day. But the city sent out only about 200,000 mail ballots in each of those elections.
--Maeve Reston, Kate Linthicum, Phil Willon and James Rainey
Photo: Wendy Greuel addresses the media at an election night gathering in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday; Eric Garcetti talks to the media after casting his ballot Tuesday. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times; Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times