Los Angeles City Councilman Gil Cedillo is heading for a May 16 runoff contest against bicycle activist Joe Bray-Ali, according to the latest vote count released Friday.
Six of the seven council members who were up for reelection March 7 won their races outright. But Cedillo, who represents such neighborhoods as Chinatown, Lincoln Heights and Westlake, took 49.4% of the vote in the latest tally — just below the majority needed to avoid a runoff.
Bray-Ali, the second-place candidate, had 38% of the vote. Two other challengers each drew less than 10%, results show.
Officials with the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk plan to tally the remaining 9,000 countywide ballots on Monday, with certification of the results scheduled for the following day.
Bray-Ali, who lives in Lincoln Heights, said he plans to focus during the runoff campaign on his vision for the district, delivering basic services, providing more youth activities and improving communication between City Hall and residents, businesses and nonprofit groups. The district is struggling with increased homelessness, widespread evictions and a growing crime problem, Bray-Ali said.
"Try to imagine a 1st Council District where the council member cares about doing the job. That's going to be the difference," he said. "I actually care about the work. The work will actually get done."
Cedillo said the district has its problems but is seeing significant progress with new park facilities, cleanups of alleys and sidewalks, and more community safety initiatives.
Experience is important, he said, at a time when immigration officers are apprehending people who lack citizenship papers near schools and at courthouses.
"We have a record of fighting for everybody in the district — rich or poor, young or old, immigrant or not. And we're going to continue that," Cedillo said.
The campaign between Cedillo and Bray-Ali has been tense at times. On election night, Cedillo said his lead showed that voters were rejecting his rival's "trendy, hippy, hipster proposal and agenda."
On Friday, Cedillo said he regrets making those remarks. "I should not have referred to his campaign … as a hipster campaign or candidacy," he said.
Runoff elections are highly unusual for Los Angeles City Council members. Former Councilman Bernard Parks narrowly avoided one in 2011, after an array of labor unions spent big to support his opponent, Forescee Hogan-Rowles.
The last incumbent council member to be ousted was Nick Pacheco, who was defeated by former Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa in 2003. That race was decided without a runoff.
Council District 1 includes all or portions of such neighborhoods as Highland Park, Glassell Park, Cypress Park, Mount Washington, Montecito Heights and Pico-Union. The winner of the contest will serve a 5 ½-year term starting July 1.