Very few La Cañadans turned out at City Hall Tuesday night as tallies of La Cañada Flintridge precincts came in from the City Council election. However, voters of this city made a not-too-bad showing at the polls, with 22% of residents casting their votes. That’s opposed to the only about 15% of voters who cast their ballots in nearby Los Angeles, according to L.A.’s City Clerk’s office.
Up for grabs in La Cañada were two of the five seats on the council. Those seats were retained in a decisive victory for incumbents: Mayor Steve Del Guercio and Councilman Dave Spence.
The low turnout of people watching the numbers roll in at City Hall was, perhaps, due to city staff posting the numbers online on the city’s website as soon as the precinct votes came in. However, a handful of council members and friends of Del Guercio and Spence stopped by to relate to friends by cellphone where the numbers seemed to be headed.
Del Guercio and Spence, surrounded by nearly 100 of their closest friends, family and co-workers, were over at Taylor’s Steakhouse — watching a computer screen — and celebrating in anticipation of their victory.
After her dad was declared a winner in the race, Cami Del Guercio, 12, a student at La Cañada High 7/8, said she was glad her dad was re-elected for another four year term.
“I know that the town I live in is in good hands. He’s a good man, he’s a good dad,” she said.
Steve Del Guercio said he was “delighted and gratified” voters returned him to office. “My opponents were honorable and it was a great race. I’m looking forward to another great four years,” he said.
Spence, however, wasn’t quite as charitable when he realized Del Guercio received more votes than he did in the race. “ Del Guercio beat me by 65 votes again. But, last time it was by 70, so I’m gaining on him,” Spence joked, referring to a friendly competition between the longtime council members.
Spence’s campaign manager, Sonia Chung, was quick to proclaim that the two are only joking about caring who gets more votes. “They’re on the same team, they take care of each other,” she said.
Spence said he’s glad residents supported both him and Del Guercio and returned them to the council.
“Steve is a capable, responsible councilman and attorney and he’s a pleasure to work with. The whole council is the best makeup I’ve ever worked with. We accomplish a lot,” Spence said.
Robert Richter of Vance Haemmerle, the two challengers in the race, also steered clear of City Hall on election night. However, Richter, who spent the evening at the Crescenta Cañada Family YMCA with friends watching the online numbers come in, said he had planned to go down to City Hall at the end of the evening, had the vote gone differently.
Richter said he was disappointed that just shy of 22% of La Cañada voters came out to vote during yesterday’s election.
“I’m not disappointed I didn’t win, I offered my services, and if the people of La Cañada don’t want my services, that’s OK,” he said, adding that he walked door-to-door campaigning in the past few weeks, and believes he went to at least 2,000 homes, where every resident in those homes told him they were going to vote, or already had cast their absentee ballots, and would be voting for him.
“I was absolutely sure I would win, so something doesn’t make sense,” Richter said, of the 1,255 votes he received in the election.
Richter came in third to Del Guercio’s 1,613 votes and Spence’s 1,548 votes.
Haemmerle received 15 votes less than Richter, coming in at 1,240 votes.
Of the 5,656 votes cast by 3,009 residents, Haemmerle and Richter had their best showings in precinct No. 2, the west side of the city. There, Richter received 320 votes, Spence received 312 votes, Haemmerle received 305, and Del Guercio trailed with 289 votes.
Richter also held his own in precinct No. 3 — the La Cañada Presbyterian Church area, south of Foothill Boulevard to Berkshire Avenue — where he received 195 votes to Del Guercio’s 211, Spence’s 190 and Haemmerle’s 185.
Both those precincts are areas largely affected by recent discussions about proposed sewers for that part of the city, an issue both challengers focused on during the election.
Del Guercio and Spence’s leads became apparent in precinct No. 8 – the Paradise Canyon and LCF Country Club area — where Spence received 330 votes, Del Guercio 324, Haemmerle 173 and Richter 165, and in precinct No. 1, the Palm Crest area, where 306 votes were cast for Del Guercio, 296 for Spence, 224 for Richter and 200 for Haemmerle.
In precinct No. 13, which voted at the Foothill Water District office, Del Guercio led with 324 votes, Spence received 288, Haemmerle 236 and Richter 214.
Precinct No. 21 — the smallest precinct, near Sacred Heart Academy — showed a fairly close race, with Del Guercio ahead with 159 votes, Spence 142, Richter 135 and Haemmerle 131.
In an electronic message to the Valley Sun, Haemmerle stated his displeasure with the “pitiful 22%” voter turnout, which he believes shows residents’ apathy for city elections.
Haemmerle contends he and Richter would likely have fared better had more residents gotten out to vote. “I think this result for two relatively unknowns in the community that were outspent more than 10 to one is that they did unexpectedly well, and shows the unrest in the city,” Haemmerle wrote.