L.A. Votes: Runoff campaigns kick off, City Hall girds for more cuts
The mayoral campaign entered a new phase Wednesday, as Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel began positioning themselves for the May 21 runoff. The fellow Democrats fought over who can best craft an image of fiscal restraint in a cash-strapped city whose voters refused to raise taxes to maintain public services. Check out a map by the Los Angeles Times’ Data Desk to see how various parts of the city voted.
The candidates spent the day after the election moving around the city. Garcetti, a city councilman who finished first in Tuesday's primary with 33% of the vote, sought to use Greuel's broad support among organized labor to portray her as bowing to its demands for scarce public money. He also offloaded a controversial oil lease that Greuel has tried to hammer him over. Greuel, who finished second with 29%, despite more than $2 million spent by union allies on her behalf, argued that she has fostered a coalition of business and labor support, showing that she has the ability to unite disparate interests and deal with the city’s fiscal woes.
Meanwhile, attention also was focused on the two candidates who effectively tied for third place -- Kevin James and Jan Perry. While Perry was radio silent throughout the day, James spoke to reporters, saying the campaign had been among the most memorable moments of his life and saying he was undecided about whether to endorse a candidate in the runoff. Perry and James will be closely scrutinized in coming weeks, because their supporters could help tilt the election.
Voters overwhelmingly rejected a sales-tax increase proposal, meaning that the next mayor and city council must be prepared to consider a new round of cuts to services, including police.
Labor-backed candidates won four seats in City Council races, ensuring that city unions will retain a strong hand at City Hall. In three of the races that are headed for a runoff, a longtime council aide will face off against a well-financed candidate backed by labor.
A well-funded campaign to shape the city’s school board and to bolster Supt. John Deasy and his policies saw mixed results. The Los Angeles Community College District will gain experience with new board members, but the direction of the agency is unlikely to change.
While the Los Angeles races drew the most attention Tuesday, 29 other cities in Los Angeles County held elections.
Despite all the money spent on the race, the blizzard of television advertising and dozens of debates, the Times examines why turnout was dismal, and columnist Steve Lopez describes the situation as “late-night TV joke territory.”
-- Seema Mehta
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