Krekorian wins Valley council seat

Assemblyman Paul Krekorian claimed victory Tuesday evening in the bitter and expensive race for the Los Angeles City Council seat previously held by City Controller Wendy Greuel.

Krekorian, the former head of the Burbank Board of Education who was elected to the Assembly in 2006, defeated former film executive Christine Essel by a 14% margin with all precincts reporting. Krekorian’s win was a major rebuke to some of the city’s most powerful unions, which flooded the race with hundreds of thousands of dollars in independent expenditures to support his rival.

Essel also outspent Krekorian 2 to 1 in Tuesday’s runoff and the primary campaign, where they faced eight other candidates.

Early in the evening Krekorian said he was proud of the outcome, “given the extraordinary efforts that were made to defeat this grass-roots campaign.”

Outside groups, including the Los Angeles Police Protective League and the union representing workers at the city’s Department of Water and Power, spent nearly $1 million, setting a record for independent spending in a non-citywide race -- with most of that money backing Essel.

Both candidates grew up in the San Fernando Valley but moved into the 2nd Council District, which stretches from Sherman Oaks and Studio City to Sunland-Tujunga, in May to run for Greuel’s seat.

Essel argued that her three decades of business experience at Paramount Pictures Corp. made her uniquely suited to work on retaining businesses in Los Angeles and creating jobs. Krekorian said he had a better understanding of the issues facing residents of the district after representing some of them in the Assembly. He courted neighborhood leaders throughout the race, promising to curb development.