A bond measure to raise $295 million for schools in Long Beach appeared to be headed for an overwhelming victory Tuesday night.
School officials, whose campaign strategy had heavily targeted mail-in voters, were elated as nearly 80% of the 17,000 absentee ballots were cast in favor of the measure.
Ballots cast at the booths reflected that trend. With 83% of those votes counted, 77% favored the bond.
That percentage is well more than the two-thirds required for passage.
The final count was not expected to be completed until this morning.
Still, school officials were upbeat.
“The conventional wisdom is that a large urban school district can only win one of these at a general election,” said Carl Cohn, superintendent of the Long Beach Unified School District. “We’ll break the mold.”
District officials hope to combine the bond money with $200 million in matching state funds to build 13 schools and make $250 million in repairs to aging buildings.
The measure would cost property owners in the district an average of $29.50 per $100,000 property valuation.
Cynthia Searle, campaign manager for the measure, said current school facilities were intended for 65,000 students but accommodate more than 90,000. And, she said, about 90% of Long Beach schools are more than 40 years old.
The vote involved most of Long Beach and Lakewood as well as all of Signal Hill and Santa Catalina Island.
The campaign became heated when the Lakewood City Council refused to back the measure. It became even more contentious when bond opponents won a court injunction Monday barring the district from helping in the campaign.
Voters in Long Beach Council District 2 also cast ballots Tuesday for 10 candidates seeking to replace Alan Lowenthal, who was elected to the state Assembly.
Candidate Dan Baker was leading with about 39% of the vote, double that received by the next highest vote-getter, Clive Graham. Baker, 33, a U.S. Customs Service officer, had been endorsed by Lowenthal.