In the first ballots counted in the race for the next mayor of Los Angeles, City Controller Wendy Greuel held a slight lead over City Councilman Eric Garcetti. With 7.5% reporting, Greuel led Garcetti 51% to 49%.
But with the vast majority of the ballots still to be counted, the race is very much still up for grabs.
The candidates ended more than two years of campaigning Tuesday by criss-crossing the city, battling for votes in the race to replace outgoing Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in a city that has traditionally had very low voter turnout.
In the race for the city’s top lawyer position, former state Assemblyman Mike Feuer held a 17-point lead over incumbent Carmen Trutanich, leading the race 58% to 41%.
After pushing past six other candidates in the March primary, Garcetti and Greuel leaned on large, unregulated spending by outside groups. Spending by city employee unions on behalf of Greuel became a central issue in the campaign. The flood of money and advertising largely went toward tearing down the two contenders, alienating many Angelenos who hadn’t already been left cold.
At $33 million, the mayoral campaign was the most expensive in city history.
Garcetti repeatedly criticized Greuel for being too beholden to the unions, which contributed nearly $6 million toward getting her elected. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which represents Department of Water and Power employees, donated $2 million. The utility is unpopular among some voters for its high salaries, averaging more than $100,000 per employee, and for bills that inevitably climb higher during hot summer months.
Garcetti spent three terms representing a district that includes Hollywood and Silver Lake.
As city budget deficits spiraled into the hundreds of millions of dollars, Garcetti—then the council president—was at the center of negotiations to balance the books. He helped persuade his council colleagues to agree to cutbacks, including reducing the city workforce, raising the retirement age for future civilian workers from 55 to 65 and increasing the amount employees pay toward pensions and healthcare.
Before she was elected controller, Greuel, 51, represented parts of the San Fernando Valley on the council for eight years.
She began her political career working in Mayor Tom Bradley’s office, worked for the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Clinton administration and served as a political operative at DreamWorks SKG.
In the primary, Greuel and Garcetti defeated three serious but underfunded contenders — Republican radio host and attorney Kevin James, Councilwoman Jan Perry and technology executive Emanuel Pleitez. All three endorsed Garcetti.