This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.
Three-term City Councilman Eric Garcetti's relentless campaigning paid off early Wednesday as he decisively won a hard-fought race to become Los Angeles' next mayor, scoring well with voters across the sprawling city and even challenging rival Wendy Greuel on her home turf in the San Fernando Valley.
Garcetti took 54% of the vote compared with 46% for Greuel in preliminary results, ending speculation that the race was so tight that a winner might not be known for weeks. Some mail-in ballots must still be counted, but they are not expected to significantly change the results.
"We have sent a message tonight and that message is that L.A. is ready to put the recession in the rear-view mirror and to become the city of opportunity that I grew up in once again," Garcetti said early Wednesday in thanking his supporters.
Turnout was about 19%, a bit higher than the initial numbers in the March primary election, but still among the lowest on record. About 345,000 ballots were cast in city races.
The election also ended the one-term political career of City Atty. Carmen Trutanich, who was soundly beaten by former Assemblyman Mike Feuer, and swept Ron Galperin, a little-known Century City lawyer, to victory as the city's next controller.
In City Council races, former Assemblyman Gil Cedillo and state Sen. Curren Price beat competitors for the seats representing the 1st and 9th districts, respectively, while a nasty race between Mitch O'Farrell, a former Garcetti's staffer, and John Choi, a labor organizer, for the Hollywood district that Garcetti represented resulted in a decisive win for O'Farrell.
Former Assemblywoman Cindy Montanez and school board member Nury Martinez, the top two finishers in the competition for the City Council seat representing the northeast San Fernando Valley, will face each other in a July 23 runoff.
Medical marijuana supporters saw the success of Proposition D, one of three pot measures that were on the ballot.
Measure D would shrink the number of pot shops in Los Angeles to about 130 -- allowing only those operating before a failed 2007 city moratorium on dispensaries to stay open -- and tax them more heavily. The measure was backed by a coalition of older shops as well as a labor union that has organized workers at many of them.
Monica Ratliff defeated Antonio Sanchez for the 6th District seat on the Los Angeles school board, preliminary results show. And in a race for a seat on the L.A. Community College District board, Nancy Pearlman decisively defeated opponent David Vela.
The mayor's race turned out to be much less competitive than either camp was predicting in recent days. Garcetti and Greuel worked dawn to dusk for weeks, racing around the city trying to lock up votes.
Garcetti, who has represented Hollywood, Silver Lake and Echo Park for 12 years, dominated the Los Angeles basin and also did well on the Westside and in the San Fernando Valley, an early analysis of the vote shows. An exception was South Los Angeles, where Greuel, who started her political career as an aide to Former Mayor Tom Bradley, appeared to poll above Garcetti.
As Greuel's early slim lead collapsed late Tuesday and the ballot count turned in Garcetti's favor, he thanked supporters jamming the Hollywood Palladium for their hard work.
"We faced some powerful forces in this race; we didn't have the most money or necessarily the biggest name endorsements always, but we had something more important -- we had a people-powered campaign," Garcetti said, alluding to the more than $7 million in contributions spent by public employee unions and other interests to elect Greuel.
"We had a commitment, with that people power, to let the voters of Los Angeles choose the next mayor of Los Angeles, not any power brokers."
Greuel conceded the election early Wednesday as the vote count climbed against her, calling Garcetti to congratulate him. She is expected to make a public concession later Wednesday morning.
In an emotional address, she thanked her backers, including "our electrical workers," a reference to the union that represents many workers at the Department of Water and Power. During the campaign, Garcetti repeatedly hammered Greuel over the support she had received from the DWP union, telling voters she was "the DWP's mayor."
Late Tuesday, the controller appeared unrepentant for accepting the union support.
"A lot of people were telling me I needed to throw working people under the bus to win this race," she said, and the crowd groaned. "That was never going to happen on my watch."
For the record 10:08 a.m., May 22: An earlier version of this post misspelled the first name of state Sen. Curren Price as Current.
For the record 8:31 p.m., May 22: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified Mitch O'Farrell as Eric Garcetti's chief of staff.