Supporters watch results on a large screen at the Yes on S campaign election night party at campaign headquarters in Los Angeles.(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles Unified Board of Education District 4 candidate Nick Melvoin, right, shares a laugh with campaign volunteer Michael Soneff at an election night gathering in Venice.(Michael Owen Baker / For The Times)
Brenda Gonzalez, left, and Javiera Cartagena take selfies at the speaker’s podium as they await results of the vote for Measure H at a party in the L.A. Hotel.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Caroline Thomas is reflected in a wall mirror, right, as she votes at the Yucca Park Community Center in Hollywood on Tuesday morning.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Southern California headed back to the polls in dozens of cities for municipal elections on Tuesday. Los Angeles County voters also will decide whether to adopt a quarter-cent sales tax to fund homeless initiatives.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Paul Coneys exits after voting at First Baptist Church in Hollywood on Tuesday morning as residents throughout Southern California headed back to the polls in dozens of cities for municipal elections.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Paul Coneys votes at First Baptist Church in Hollywood on Tuesday morning.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
After traveling a mile in her wheelchair, voter Ro Betancourt, 78, casts her ballot at her polling place in the Hollywood Recreation Center.(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
L.A. Unified school board President Steve Zimmer arrives at his polling place in the Hollywood Recreation Center to cast his ballot.(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
Tooti, a support dog, sits on the lap of poll worker Thomas Green at the polling place inside the Hollywood Recreation Center.(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
Veronica Lebron tries to persuade voters not to reelect L.A. City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell in the designated 100-foot zone outside the polling place at the Hollywood Recreation Center.(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti holds his daughter Maya, 5, as he casts his ballot inside the Fellowship Hall at Wilshire United Methodist Church in Los Angeles.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti talks to media after he cast his ballot Tuesday morning at Wilshire United Methodist Church.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti carries daughter, Maya, 5, after he cast his ballot at Wilshire United Methodist Church in Los Angeles.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Poll workers wait for voters Tuesday at the fire station in the 100 block of W. Regent Street in Inglewood.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Volunteer Young Park, left, gets help from Hye Gyung Kim as they prepare a polling location at Wilshire United Methodist Church in Los Angeles.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Milagro Aguilar, a volunteer at the polling location of Wilshire United Methodist Church in Los Angeles, climbs to fasten the American flag before polls open Tuesday.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti won reelection Tuesday in what appeared to be one of the biggest landslides in the city’s history, crushing 10 little-known rivals and strengthening his standing for a potential run for higher office.
With nearly half the ballots counted, Garcetti was holding more than 80% of the vote. If his vote share remains in that range when the tally is done, it will likely surpass the record of nearly a century of Los Angeles mayors.
With Tuesday’s low voter turnout, however, it’s possible that Garcetti will have won fewer votes than other mayors, such as Tom Bradley.
“Thank you for giving me the honor of being your mayor for another term,” Garcetti told hundreds of supporters Tuesday night at a union hall in Pico-Union.
Eight City Council seats were also at stake in Tuesday’s primary, with incumbents across the city each holding a lopsided lead over their challengers as votes were tallied through the evening. In the closest council race, incumbent Gil Cedillo appeared early Wednesday to have avoided a runoff against challenger Joe Bray-Ali, receiving just under 51% of the votes with all precincts reporting.
In a season when Donald Trump’s tumultuous presidency has dominated politics worldwide, it has been hard for Garcetti and others on the L.A. ballot to capture the public’s attention.
In his campaign, Garcetti stressed his record raising the minimum wage, cutting business taxes and backing ballot measures to expand public transit and house the homeless.
The recent surge in homelessness and an uptick in crime threatened to dampen Garcetti’s support, even if he was widely expected to win the majority vote that he needs to avoid a May 16 runoff.
Public anxiety over explosive growth of development in Hollywood and other neighborhoods fueled support for Measure S, which would hinder some major real estate projects. Passage of the measure would have been a blow to the pro-development mayor, but it was losing by a wide margin Tuesday night.
A liberal Democrat, Garcetti also faced criticism from immigrant rights advocates who accused him of failing to speak out forcefully enough against Trump, a charge he denied. They criticized him for resisting labeling Los Angeles a “sanctuary city” for immigrants in the U.S. illegally.
On Tuesday night, scores of protesters gathered outside Garcetti’s election celebration at the Pico-Union office of Laborers International Union of North America Local 300.
“Sanctuary is our demand, Mayor Garcetti take a stand,” they chanted.
Garcetti has sought to raise his national profile in recent weeks by denouncing Trump’s immigration policies in television news interviews.
“He’s out there defending the cause,” Romario Ortiz, 27, the son of immigrants from Guatemala and El Salvador, said Tuesday after voting for Garcetti at an Echo Park polling station.
Only one of Garcetti’s challengers, Democratic political operative Mitchell Schwartz, posed at least a minimal threat. Schwartz spent nearly $700,000 on the contest, much of it for final-week mailings to voters. It has been many decades since that kind of small-scale campaign has succeeded in an L.A. mayor’s race.
But Cedillo and City Councilmen Paul Koretz, Curren Price, Mike Bonin, Mitch O’Farrell and Joe Buscaino were all facing challengers. In the East Valley, 20 candidates were vying for the open council seat last held by Felipe Fuentes.
Cedillo, who served 14 years as a state lawmaker before winning his council seat four years ago, was facing one of the most serious challenges, from Bray-Ali, a bike activist. But the first round of election returns found that even Cedillo stood a chance of winning a majority and avoiding a runoff.
One sign of concern among Cedillo supporters was a late $80,000 expenditure by a Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce committee on Spanish-language radio ads promoting the Eastside councilman. The ads focused on his work supporting immigrants in the country illegally.
At Cedillo’s party Tuesday night in Highland Park, former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said a runoff looked unlikely.
“He’s a fighter and I think the people recognize that,” said Villaraigosa, now a candidate for governor.
Price, one of three African Americans on the council, was trying to fend off two Latino challengers in his district just south of downtown. The district has become a test of black political power in recent years as the Latino population has steadily risen. Initial returns showed Price easily avoiding a runoff.
Koretz, Bonin, O’Farrell and Buscaino were each defeating their opponents handily in early returns. In the open East Valley district, early returns showed Karo Torossian and Monica Rodriguez best positioned to make a May runoff.
The trickle of voters at city polling stations captured the city’s prevailing attitude toward the election: indifference.
“Four people in line at my polling place is four more people than I thought would be at my polling place, so that’s something,” USC graduate student Alex Amadeo wrote on Twitter.
The city’s elected officials normally serve four-year terms. But because of a shift in the election calendar, winners of this year’s elections will serve 5½ years. Starting in 2020, city elections will coincide with state and federal elections.
Times staff writers Seema Mehta and Ben Welsh contributed to this story.
12:40 a.m. March 8: This article was updated with the latest results for incumbent Gil Cedillo.
12:05 a.m. March 8: This article was updated to say nearly half the votes had been counted.
11:45 p.m.: This article was updated with the latest results.
9:55 p.m.: This article was updated with a reaction by Garcetti and former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
8:40 p.m.: This article was updated with initial returns.
This article was first posted at 7:15 p.m.