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Election day arrives for L.A. voters; polls open at 7 a.m.

March 8, 2011 |  6:06 am

Los Angeles voters head to the polls Tuesday to decide seven City Council races, a full slate of ballot measures focused on the city’s budget crisis and several seats on the Los Angeles school board and the L.A. Community College District Board of Trustees.

The two most contentious City Council races have been in the South Los Angeles district of Councilman Bernard C. Parks, who has faced a $1.17-million onslaught of independent expenditures by labor unions on behalf of his chief opponent, and in the Eastside district of Councilman Jose Huizar, who is being challenged by businessman Rudy Martinez, a onetime friend who has been able to bankroll his campaign.

Four other incumbents -- Tony Cardenas, Paul Krekorian, Tom LaBonge and Herb J. Wesson Jr.-- have drawn less well-financed opponents. The only open seat is in the San Fernando Valley district of retiring Councilman Greig Smith, whose chief of staff is vying against others to replace him.

City voters will also be asked to weigh 10 ballot measures, many of which are designed to help the city address its budget gap of $404 million.

Measure L would alter the City Charter to protect a greater share of property tax revenue for the city’s cash-strapped libraries. It is being opposed by the Los Angeles Police Protective League because of the possibility that it could cut into public safety moneyand other services. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City Council have backed a pension measure that would scale back benefits for future hires in the fire and police departments; the unions have not actively opposed that measure.

Council President Eric Garcetti and Councilwoman Jan Perry, both of whom may run for mayor in 2013, are also championing several measures intended to create greater transparency at the city’s Department of Water and Power, including establishing an office of independent ratepayer advocate who would vet proposed rate hikes.

Many of the council members, as well as a number of medical marijuana activists, are opposed to a measure that would authorize city officials to collect a new tax of $50 per $1,000 of medical marijuana collectives’ gross receipts. Links to sample ballots and other election information are available on the city clerk’s website.

Polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Voters can find their polling place by going online to http://www.lavote.net/locator or by calling (888) 873-1000 or (213) 978-0444. Voters' polling stations are also printed on the back of sample ballots that were mailed weeks ago.

The city has also set up a hotline for residents to report suspected voter fraud on Tuesday: (800) 815-2666. Check back for full election coverage Tuesday evening at www.latimes.com and follow our election team on Twitter: @maevereston,@katelinthicum, @LATimesCityGov


March 8 City Election: Ballot Overview

-- Maeve Reston at Los Angeles City Hall