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Polls open at 7 a.m. in 10-candidate race for San Fernando Valley seat on L.A. city council

September 22, 2009 |  6:00 am

Voters in the 2nd Los Angeles City Council District head to the polls today to choose a replacement for former Councilwoman Wendy Greuel, who was elected city controller in March. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
In the brief three-month sprint to the special election, the candidates have focused on quality-of-life issues and controlling development in a district that extends from Sherman Oaks and Studio City at its southern border through North Hollywood and Valley Glen up to Sunland-Tujunga at its northern edge.
With a field of 10 candidates, much attention has focused on the three best funded-candidates: former Paramount Pictures Corp. executive Christine Essel; state Assemblyman Paul Krekorian; and Los Angeles school board member Tamar Galatzan, a deputy city attorney based in Van Nuys.
Their rivals include a number of neighborhood activists, including Mary Benson of Sun Valley; insurance company claims audit manager Pete Sanchez of Valley Village; and Michael McCue of Studio City.
Three businessmen are also vying for Greuel’s seat: Frank Sheftel, the owner the Candy Factory in North Hollywood; Augusto Bisani of Valley Village, who owns a restaurant equipment business; and Realtor Joe Essavi, who serves on Los Angeles County’s Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Commission.

Former mayoral candidate and City Hall gadfly David “Zuma Dogg” Saltsburg is also in the race after moving to North Hollywood.

The city plans to spend as much as $1.8 million on the election. If no candidate wins a majority of the vote, the top two candidates will face a runoff election Dec. 8. The winner will finish Greuel’s term, which ends in June 2011.
Officials at the Los Angeles city clerk’s office plan to begin posting results by 8:30 p.m. here. The first tallies will be from vote-by-mail ballots. As of Monday afternoon, the clerk’s office had received just 7,386 ballots by mail – a fraction of the 124,955 voters who live in the 2nd Council District.
Polling place information is available at the Election Division’s website or by calling the city clerk’s office at (213) 978-0444 or (888) 873-1000.
-- Maeve Reston at Los Angeles City Hall