L.A. mayor's race: Garcetti, Greuel locked in tight battle
Councilman Eric Garcetti and Controller Wendy Greuel solidified their leads in the race for mayor of Los Angeles with just under a quarter of the precincts reporting Tuesday night.
The top-two finishers in Tuesday’s election will face off in a May runoff election. Garcetti and Greuel emerged as the early front-runners in the race, polls showed, and early returns Tuesday night appeared to show similar results.
Standing on a stage lined with supporters, Garcetti thanked the crowd for their help and said he’s ready to get to work on winning the runoff election in May.
“We have the most votes tonight, and it looks like we are heading to a runoff,” he said. “I’m ready to work as hard as it takes, I’m ready to get up as early as it takes. Tomorrow we’re going to get up, we’re going to get to work, and we’re going to win this campaign.”
Greuel took the stage at 11 p.m. in a red suit after being introduced by Assembly Speaker John Pérez to chants of “Wendy! Wendy! Wendy!”
“Although not all the votes are in, it sure looks good,” Greuel said. She thanked the other candidates: “After 42 debates, I know what your priorities are. In fact, I could probably recite your best lines.”
“We’re 11 weeks from making history, electing the first woman mayor,” Greuel said. “And, of course, the first mom.”
Councilwoman Jan Perry was holding onto third place, with attorney Kevin James, the only Republican in the race, slightly behind her.
Emanuel Pleitez on Tuesday night conceded defeat as early returns showed he was capturing just a sliver of the vote.
"I concede that I am not going to be one of the top two, but I think it will be a respectable showing," he said as he arrived at the M Bar in Boyle Heights to wait for the results with staff and supporters. "I'm feeling proud of what we accomplished, the issues we raised, the people we inspired and motivated in the city. At every turn, especially these last few days, there were people saying thank you for running, thank you for challenging the status quo."
As returns came in, the vote for a measure to add a half-cent to the city’s sales tax trailed in early voting. The increase, Proposition A, would bring sales taxes in Los Angeles to 9.5%, one of the highest rates in the state, and raise $200 million a year for the city treasury.
In the race for city attorney, incumbent Carmen Trutanich, who lost a bid for L.A. County district attorney last year, was trailing former Assemblyman Mike Feuer in early returns. The race for controller remained too close to call, with City Councilman Dennis Zine leading narrowly over businessman Ron Galperin.
In the slew of races for Los Angeles City Council, incumbents Paul Koretz on the Westside and Joe Buscaino in the Harbor district jumped out to major leads, according to an early tally.
Eight of the City Council’s 15 seats are up for grabs, setting the stage for the most dramatic change on the city’s legislative body in a dozen years. With incumbents stepping down in six of those eight races, dozens of candidates stepped forward to seek seats on the council.
Before the polls opened Tuesday, the city clerk’s office had received 148,846 mail-in ballots from voters in the city, or 8.2% of the total number of registered voters. More voters voted by mail than in the first round of either the 2001 or 2005 city elections, but there are also many more residents who received mail ballots this year than in those elections.
Of the total 663,086 mail-in ballots issued this year, 22.4% had been returned by the start of election day. In 2001 and 2005, a much higher percentage of ballots — about half — had been returned by election day. But the city sent out only about 200,000 mail ballots in each of those elections.
--Maeve Reston, Kate Linthicum, Phil Willon and James Rainey
Photo: Eric Garcetti casts his ballot at Allesandro Elementary School in Boyle Heights on Tuesday; Wendy Greuel casts her ballot with her son Thomas, 9, at a polling place in Studio City. Credit: Kevork Djansezian / Getty; Al Seib / Los Angeles Times