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Category: Antonio Villaraigosa

L.A. Votes: Dismal turnout, mayoral runoff, and failed sales tax

PHOTOS: Los Angeles voters go to the polls

This post has been corrected. See below for details.

After months of buildup and millions of dollars spent on a blizzard of television ads and mailers, Los Angeles voters went to the polls Tuesday and selected Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel to advance to a mayoral runoff. The long-time City Hall hands don’t have any plans to let up the day after the primary. They will be busy on the campaign trail on Wednesday, with Greuel expected to pick up the endorsement of another union representing city workers.

Rivals Jan Perry and Kevin James did not offer their concessions Tuesday night. James, who has never held elected office, received a hair more support than Perry, a three-term  Los Angeles councilwoman, in the final tally. A key question going forward will be whether they endorse Garcetti or Greuel, because their supporters could propel one of the finalists to victory.

Turnout in the city races was dismal at 16% in a contested mayoral primary. That’s lower than four years ago, when an incumbent was running for reelection. Political experts have speculated that the distinct lack of enthusiasm may have been caused by voter fatigue after a bruising and long presidential contest, coupled with a lack of excitement about the mayoral field. 

RESULTS: Los Angeles primary election

The voters who turned out overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to raise the city’s sales tax by a half-cent to one of the highest in the state. While all the major mayoral candidates opposed the measure, its failure creates a new headache for the next mayor of the city, which will face budget deficits projected at $216 million a year and more.

The city school board races saw an inordinate amount of outside spending, with two camps pouring millions of dollars into the contests. One side is funded by supporters of the policies advocated by L.A. Unified Supt. John Deasy and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa;  New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg wrote a $1 million check for that camp. The other side has the support of teachers unions. The result is a mixed bag for both sides, with board president Monica Garcia, a Deasy supporter, and Steve Zimmer, a union-backed candidate, both winning reelection.

Sacramento veterans lead in City Council races, and the city attorney and controller are also headed for a runoff.

INTERACTIVE MAP: How your neighborhood voted

Vote-counting took hours, but the greatest drama of the day took place in the morning. A morning shooting occurred outside a polling place in Watts, injuring a poll worker and halting voting for 30 minutes. The 35-year-old victim’s injuries were not life threatening. Police described the incident as a possible “love triangle” and are seeking a suspect.

Columnist Steve Lopez checked in on Election Day with the voters he has been in periodic touch with since January. They voted, despite their frustration with the field and with City Hall. “No one is turning cartwheels,” Lopez wrote.

[For the Record, 9:56 a.m. March 6: An earlier version of this online post gave the wrong name for  L.A. Unified School District Supt. John Deasy.]

ALSO:

Steve Lopez: Switch local elections to national cycle?

Suspect sought in polling place 'love triangle' shooting

L.A. mayor's race: SEIU, a key city union, endorses Wendy Greuel

-- Seema Mehta

Comments, questions or tips on city elections? Tweet me at @LATSeema 

Photo: Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel speak to supporters during election night gatherings. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times; Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

L.A. mayor’s race live: Garcetti, Greuel hold on to their lead

PHOTOS: Los Angeles voters go to the polls

10:39 p.m.

As election results  in the L.A. mayor’s race trickled in Tuesday night, Controller Wendy Greuel and Councilman Eric Garcetti continued to lead the pack in early returns.

Along with a substantial chunk of mail-in ballots, city elections officials have tallied votes from 2.5% of precincts in the city – just a sliver of the ballots likely to be cast.

Opinion polls cast Garcetti and Greuel as the front-runners in the race which, by all indications, will probably be decided in a May runoff between the top-two finishers.

LIVE RESULTS: Los Angeles primary election

Councilwoman Jan Perry captured enough votes in the early returns to hold onto third place, with attorney Kevin James, the only Republican in the race, slightly behind her.

In the race for city attorney, former Assemblyman Mike Feuer and incumbent Carmen Trutanich were locked in a tight contest. City Councilman Dennis Zine was leading in the race for city controller.

A measure to add a half-cent to the city’s sales tax continued to trail in early returns. The measure, 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.

9:37 p.m.

With more than 111,000 mail-in ballots tallied in Tuesday’s Los Angeles city election, Councilman Eric Garcetti and City Controller Wendy Greuel pulled out to early leads in the race for mayor--with the two running virtually neck-and-neck.

Councilwoman Jan Perry trailed in third place, according to the early returns.

Still, it was far too early in the vote count for any lead to be secure. Los Angeles has just over 1.8 million registered voters.

LIVE RESULTS: Los Angeles primary election

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.

In the race for city attorney, former Assemblyman Mike Feuer was leading incumbent Carmen Trutanich. City Councilman Dennis Zine was leading in the race for city controller.

--Phil Willon and James Rainey

7:08 p.m.

The city of Los Angeles may be in the grips of its most serious and prolonged financial crisis in memory, but voters didn't clamor to the polls Tuesday to decide who should fix the mess.

The election had the mayor’s office, a majority of City Council seats and a half-cent sales tax on the line, but Angelenos only trickled to voting booths -- which closed at 8 p.m.

The city clerk’s office said it expected to post its first returns -- from mail-in ballots received by last Saturday -- a half hour after voting ended.  The timing of final results remains unpredictable because many of the contests -- particularly the half-cent sales tax, Measure A -- are expected to be close.

JOIN THE DISCUSSION: Los Angeles school board race

Election officials reported no widespread irregularities, although one polling place in Watts closed temporarily in the morning after the shooting of a poll worker. And more than one voting location in the north San Fernando Valley also had to contend with a power outage after nightfall.

Police called the shooting of the 35-year-old poll worker part of a domestic dispute. A hospital treated the worker for injuries that were not life-threatening and the voting place reopened a half-hour later in a mobile polling station next to the auditorium at 92nd Street Elementary School.

The power outage shut down a polling place on Del Sur Street in Pacoima, according to Felipe Fuentes, a council candidate in District 7. Fuentes said he used the light from his mobile phone to help voters find their names on the rolls so they could receive their ballots.

FULL COVERAGE: L.A.'s race for mayor

Fewer than 18% of the city’s registered voters cast ballots in the 2009 mayoral election featuring incumbent Antonio Villaraigosa and nine little-known, underfunded challengers. Villaraigoa won a second term outright in the primary, capturing enough of the vote to make a runoff unnecessary.

Thirty-four percent voted four years earlier in the runoff that made Villaraigosa the first Latino mayor in the city’s modern history.

Turnout for the first round of Los Angeles municipal elections is typically low, though most candidates said they hoped the closely contested mayoral race -- being led in recent polls by Councilman Eric
Garcetti and City Controller Wendy Greuel -- would inspire more interest.

PHOTOS: Los Angeles voters go to the polls

After voting Tuesday morning near his Silver Lake home, Garcetti, 42, said he hoped people would come out.

Continue reading »

L.A. election: Villaraigosa's sales tax behind in early voting

PHOTOS: Los Angeles voters go to the polls

A measure to add a half-cent to the city’s sales tax lagged in early voting returns Tuesday.

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. The measure, which trailed in an early count of write-in ballots, received ardent support from Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and a belated endorsement from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who will leave office July 1 after the maximum two terms.

LIVE RESULTS: Los Angeles primary election

The measure’s fate will have a major impact on the decisions and policies of the new mayor and City Council, who will face budget deficits projected at $216 million a year and more.

City budget analysts have warned that the tax’s failure could lead to cutbacks in police and fire service, and make it more difficult for the next mayor to balance income and spending.  But critics, including all of the leading candidates to replace Villaraigosa, argued that Los Angeles should balance its books without asking taxpayers for more money.

ALSO:

Polling place shooting sparked by 'love triangle,' LAPD says

L.A. mayor’s race live: Garcetti, Greuel pull out to early lead

L.A. city elections: Incumbent council members take early lead

--Phil Willon

Photo: Olga Korn, 86, walked to the Encino Self Storage on Ventura Boulevard to cast her vote on Tuesday. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

L.A. elections: Join the conversation

Times reporters will join L.A. Now Live at 9 p.m. for a live election update and to answer readers’ questions about the Los Angeles primary.

Lines at polling places were short Tuesday, though the election will result in significant changes in city leadership, with residents selecting a mayor, city attorney, city controller, and eight City Council members

LIVE RESULTS: Los Angeles primary election

As voters headed to the polls, former City Council President Eric Garcetti was locked in a tight race with City Controller Wendy Greuel. In last week’s USC Price/Los Angeles Times poll, Garcetti had support from 27% of those surveyed and Greuel had 25% — a statistical tie because of the margin of error — while the three other major candidates were bunched behind. Former prosecutor and radio host Kevin James was at 15%, City Councilwoman Jan Perry was at 14% and former technology executive Emanuel Pleitez was fifth with 5%.

If no candidate breaks 50%, the top two vote-getters will enter a May runoff.

FULL COVERAGE: L.A.'s race for mayor

Turnout by the 1.8 million registered voters in the city is expected by some political observers to be below the 34% seen in 2005 general election, when Antonio Villaraigosa won office to become Los Angeles' first Latino mayor in modern times. The city clerk has issued 663,065 vote-by-mail ballots — about a fifth had been returned by Monday.

The median Los Angeles turnout is 26%, compared to 48% in Chicago, 44% in Philadelphia and 41% in San Francisco, according to a 2007 study by a University of Michigan professor.

City Hall not a 'mess' despite what ads contend, Villaraigosa says

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Tuesday disputed the idea that City Hall is "a mess," saying campaign ads that portray the city as being near bankruptcy are not accurate.

Standing inside his polling place on the day Angelenos pick a new mayor, Villaraigosa touted the city's success at reducing the size of its budget shortfall in the middle of a huge economic downturn. "The idea that the city's a mess just doesn't conform with reality," said Villaraigosa, moments after casting his ballot in favor of Proposition A, the half-cent sales tax increase.

The argument that the city is a mess is a cornerstone of the campaign waged by Working Californians, the political committee closely tied to the Department of Water and Power's employee union. That group had a TV ad on the air for weeks promoting mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel, which begins with the ominous message: "Los Angeles on the verge of bankruptcy. Deficits as far as the eye can see." The commercial then describes Greuel as the one leader who is able to "clean up the mess at City Hall."

PHOTOS: Los Angeles voters go to the polls

The 30-second spot was created by Villaraigosa's own longtime political advisors, campaign consultants Sean Clegg and Ace Smith of SCN Strategies. Their firm helped Villaraigosa become mayor in 2005 and win  re-election four years later. Clegg helped Villaraigosa govern, by serving as his deputy mayor and speechwriter.

Continue reading »

L.A. Votes: Election Day! Candidates barnstorm, new controversies emerge

Garcettigreuel
Tuesday is election day in Los Angeles, and voters will weigh in on who should be the city’s next mayor and decide on a measure that would boost the city’s sales tax. Also on the ballot are contests for city controller, city attorney, eight council districts, and board seats for the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Los Angeles Community College District. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and voters can also drop off mail-in ballots at polling stations. Election Memo

After many months of campaigning and a frenzy of television ads and mailers, voters still have few details of how the top mayoral contenders would deal with the city's financial problems.

In their final push before voters headed to the polls, the candidates barnstormed Los Angeles. Eric Garcetti had an early morning meeting with union workers in Wilmington before embarking on a “whistle-stop” tour, taking public transit to greet voters throughout the city. Greuel completed a swing that took her to 30 events in the three days preceding Election Day, including testing out her moves with an elementary school drill team.  Jan Perry campaigned not only for herself,  but also against Measure A, which would raise the city’s sales tax to 9.5%. Kevin James hit the Original Farmers Market with former Mayor Richard Riordan.

WHERE THEY STAND: Los Angeles mayoral candidates in their own words

Candidates in the down-ballot races were also busy. City Atty. Carmen Trutanich, who is facing a tough reelection bid, returned to the campaign trail Monday after taking time off because of the death of his mother on Saturday. And Eastside council hopeful Gil Cedillo put out a call from California Gov. Jerry Brown.

Last-minute controversies continued to dog the candidates. The California chapter of the National Organization of Women and Garcetti slammed radio and Web ads by Greuel and her allies that pointed out that Perry declared bankruptcy years ago. And county supervisor and fellow Republican Michael Antonovich cried foul over a James fundraising plea that purported to come from Antonovich. The supervisor said the appeal included comments he never made. James’ campaign manager apologized.

The candidates are voting today, but they will continue to woo voters around the city, mindful that in what is expected to be a low-turnout contest, a small number of votes could swing key races. After the polls close, they will settle in and wait for the results before speaking at election night parties.

PHOTOS: Los Angeles voters go to the polls

The public might get a brief respite from campaign ads because the top two candidates continuing to the May 21 runoff in any unresolved races must begin raising donations again. As for the losers, they will have to decide whether to endorse one of the rivals they have spent months attacking.

For comprehensive coverage of today's developments and tonight's results, visit www.latimes.com for  updates from the campaign trail, scenes from election night parties, Web chats with the reporters covering the races, and video reports.

ALSO:

Girl Scout cookie money theft: Skateboarder could face charges

Greuel votes early in Studio City, urges Angelenos to get to polls

Nurse who refused to give CPR followed protocol, facility official says

-- Seema Mehta

Comments, questions or tips on city elections? Tweet me at @LATSeema

Photo: Mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti, left, and mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel, right, talk to media after casting his ballot at separate polling stations. (Irfan Khan and Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Late donations bolster pro-Deasy school board candidates

Two eleventh hour donations have added financial muscle to a campaign seeking to bolster Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy through the results of Tuesday’s Board of Education elections.

The Sacramento-based California Charter Schools Assn. has donated $300,000. And New York City-based News America Inc. has donated $250,000, according to reports filed Monday with the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, which oversees local campaign spending.

The money has gone to a political action committee called the Coalition for School Reform, which has the endorsement of  Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and funding from a relatively small group of major donors. The largest donation is $1 million from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The coalition’s war chest now surpasses $3.8 million, according to campaign manager Janelle Erickson, who is on leave from her job as Villaraigosa’s deputy chief of staff.

The News America donation provides another link between the school-reform battles in the Big Apple and Los Angeles. News America is an affiliate of News Corp., the media conglomerate run by Rupert Murdoch. News Corp.’s executive vice president is Joel Klein, former superintendent of the New York City school system under Bloomberg. Klein himself gave $25,000 to the coalition.

Continue reading »

Opponents of sales tax hike make last pitch to voters

Photo: Los Angeles mayoral candidate and city councilwoman Jan Perry speaks as at a campaign event on Sunday. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

Opponents of a sales tax hike on Tuesday’s ballot in Los Angeles made an eleventh-hour case against the measure, saying it would hurt working families and harm the city's business climate.

City Council members Bernard C. Parks and Jan Perry on Monday joined two council candidates -- David Roberts and Emile Mack -- to denounce the measure, which would generate more than $200 million annually and push the city’s rate from 9 to 9.5%.

The event, held outside City Hall, was the only one staged during this year's campaign by opponents of Proposition A. Parks, a former police chief, said he and his allies called the news conference out of concern that “scare tactics” staged by backers of the measure were persuading the public.

L.A. ELECTIONS 2013: Sign up for our email newsletter

For more than a week, the Proposition A campaign has been running TV ads that feature Police Chief Charlie Beck warning that public safety services are in danger. The warning accompanies images of patients being rushed to hospitals and firetrucks racing to emergencies.

Backers of the measure contend that the sales tax hike is needed to prevent reductions in staffing at the Police and Fire Departments. The USC Price/L.A. Times Poll, taken between Feb. 24 and 27, found that 53% of respondents favored the tax and 41% opposed it.

A further 6% of those surveyed, many of them Democrats, were undecided, the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy/L.A. Times Los Angeles City Primary Poll found.

FULL COVERAGE: L.A.'s race for mayor

Proponents of the tax, including Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Council President Herb Wesson, argue that the city's leaders have already made tough decisions to balance the budget. Those include cutting the size of the workforce and rolling back retirement benefits for new employees; they argue that extra revenue now is needed to avoid more reductions.

Perry, who is running for mayor, said businesses would be less likely to relocate to the city if Proposition A is passed. And Parks said a defeat of the measure would force unions back to the table to renegotiate a two-year series of raises that is expected to add $167 million to the city's financial burden by summer 2014.

Harvey Englander, a consultant on the Proposition A campaign, said he found Parks' statements "perplexing," since the councilman voted to put the tax measure on the ballot last fall. "Prop. A will cost the average Angeleno about $30 per year, which is about [the] cost of a store-bought cup of coffee each month," he said in a statement.

GRAPHIC: Where do mayoral candidates stand?

Monday's event showed the huge financial gulf between the opposing sides on Proposition A. Backers of the measure have raised $1.5 million for their campaign, much of it from public employee labor unions, developers and billboard companies doing business at City Hall.

At Parks' event, opponents of Proposition A stood next to a lectern decorated with a red, handmade poster that said "No on Prop. A" in black letters. The poster was made by Parks’ son -- who is his chief of staff -- and the councilman's 3-year-old granddaughter.

“Don’t make fun of my sign. Me and my 3-year-old made it last night,” said Bernard Parks. Jr.

ALSO:

Slim majority supports L.A. sales tax increase

L.A. tax measure could help pay for raises for city employees

L.A.'s next mayor will face stark budget problems

-- David Zahniser and Jessica Garrison at Los Angeles City Hall

Photo: Los Angeles mayoral candidate and city councilwoman Jan Perry speaks as at a campaign event on Sunday. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

Meet the L.A. school board candidates

Ten candidates are on the ballot next Tuesday for three seats on the Los Angeles Board of Education.

Four of them are backed by high-cost independent campaigns on their behalf; the others have had difficulty getting their messages out.

The campaign also has been marked by misleading negative campaign mail as well as by exaggerated claims. Here are thumbnails of all the candidates:

BOARD DISTRICT 2

Monica Garcia, 44, incumbent, elected in 2006

Details: Previously a senior school board staffer and school counselor

The record: Board’s closest ally to L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Will not oppose his wishes; he also takes guidance from her. A power broker: Helped engineer the firing of former Supt. David Brewer, the hiring of his successor, Ramon C. Cortines, and the hiring of the current superintendent, John Deasy. Sometimes uses her authority to bypass district procedures, as when she engineered the hand-over of a high school campus to Villaraigosa’s nonprofit group.

On Supt. John Deasy: “I am proud that we hired John Deasy.… He knows that we are on the kids’ side.”

Abelardo Diaz, 51, high school Spanish teacher

Details: Taught at Washington Prep High, where he helped to organize a bilingual academic decathlon. Certified as a teacher through the National Board process. Later became founding teacher at the Cortines High School of Visual and Performing Arts, where he is the union representative.

Of note: Has a particular issue with Garcia over her insistence that the arts high school be named after former L.A. schools Supt. Ramon Cortines, bypassing pledges and policies to include the school community in the naming process.

On  Deasy: “I feel he doesn’t listen to the people he needs to listen to, including the teachers. He judges without going deeper and makes decisions based on that.”

Isabel Vazquez, 52, first-grade teacher at Queen Anne Place Elementary

Continue reading »

L.A. mayoral candidates back schools chief Deasy

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy explains the need to transform Crenshaw High School in South Los Angeles on Jan. 15.  Credit: Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press

The five leading candidates for mayor said Wednesday that they favored keeping Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy on the job overseeing the nation's second-largest school system. 

Deasy’s policies — and his job security — have become a major undercurrent in the contests for three seats on the L.A. Unified Board of Education. A coalition of wealthy donors and civil leaders including L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa have backed school board candidates who strongly support Deasy.

The teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles, is backing different contenders in two of those races. The union has frequently opposed Deasy, but has not called for his dismissal.

L.A. ELECTIONS 2013: Sign up for our email newsletter    

Education hasn’t been a major theme in the race for mayor, but the topic was thrust into the spotlight by the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, which organized a campaign forum as part of a broader education conference at the downtown Convention Center.

Deasy has done “a very good job in the face of some incredible challenges and I would stand with him to make sure he got reappointed,” said L.A. City Councilwoman Jan Perry, who also praised Deasy’s “patience, intelligence, knowledge and great technical skill” as well as an ability to “speak truth to power.”

Attorney and former radio talk host Kevin James called Deasy “a reform-minded superintendent” who “has overall done a good job.” James said he looked forward to working with Deasy even though he took issue with some of Deasy’s actions or positions.

FULL COVERAGE: L.A.'s race for mayor

“I support you as well,” said technology company executive  Emanuel Pleitez, addressing Deasy, who was in the audience. Pleitez added that he supported Deasy’s technology push but wanted to see even more in that arena. He also challenged Deasy to redouble efforts to bring together people with conflicting views on improving schools.

“It sounds like you’re going to get reappointed,” said L.A. City Controller Wendy Greuel, who, like the others, was aware that the mayor does not appoint the superintendent. “He came in taking no prisoners. He said, ‘I’m going to do what’s best.’…That’s the kind of person we need.” She added: “Thank you very much, Mr. Deasy, for what you do every day.”

Continue reading »
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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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