A day after polls closed in Inglewood's mayoral race, voters appear to have given the job to a retired police chief over the incumbent, a veteran politician.
An unofficial tally released Wednesday by the Inglewood City Clerk's office awarded former Santa Monica Police Chief James T. Butts Jr. 56% of the vote compared to 44% for incumbent Mayor Daniel K. Tabor in the runoff election.
Around 5,700 votes were cast Tuesday, according City Clerk Yvonne Horton, and an unspecified number of absentee provisional ballots were still to be counted Wednesday. The clerk has until Jan. 25 to have the election results certified by Inglewood's City Council, Horton said.
The runoff followed a November general election in which no candidate received a majority of votes.
Butts, who served as Santa Monica's police chief for 15 years and spent nearly two decades with the Inglewood Police Department, was ready Wednesday to claim victory.
"I feel extremely grateful to the community for expressing their confidence in me to serve and lead the city forward," said Butts, 57, who moved to Inglewood last year and lived in the city for a few years in the 1970s. He most recently headed security for Los Angeles World Airports.
Butts' four-year mayoral term will give him a chance to clean up the office's image, which was severely tarnished by Inglewood's former mayor, Roosevelt Dorn, who resigned last January after pleading guilty to a conflict-of-interest charge.
Butts said he would first work to stabilize Inglewood's dire financial situation, then focus on revitalizing the city economically and socially. He has said his priorities are public safety, improving schools and creating jobs.
Butts' key endorsements came from Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and the Inglewood Police Assn., according to his campaign material.
Tabor, 56, had served as mayor since August after winning a runoff election to finish out the remaining months of Dorn's term.
As absentee ballots continued to be counted Wednesday, Tabor remained hopeful that he might win.
A longtime public official who previously served on the Inglewood City Council and at the U.S. Department of Commerce, Tabor was raised in Inglewood and has worked there most of his life.
About 11% of Inglewood's approximately 50,000 registered voters cast ballots, according to the city clerk.