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L.A. Council elections: Incumbents and Englander hold leads in early returns

March 8, 2011 |  9:54 pm

Six members of the Los Angeles City Council were pulling ahead of their challengers in early returns Tuesday, despite a year in which members struggled to get a handle on a budget crisis.

With absentee ballot results tabulated, each of the incumbents -- Bernard C. Parks, Jose Huizar, Tom LaBonge, Paul Krekorian, Herb Wesson and Tony Cardenas -- were receiving more than the 50% of the vote. If those numbers hold, they would win outright and avoid a May 17 runoff.

Of those six incumbents, Parks faced the greatest danger of being pushed into a May 17 runoff election by Forescee Hogan-Rowles, a nonprofit-group executive whose campaign was bolstered by $1.2 million in funds from public employee unions. Parks has repeatedly called for employee cuts to solve a $404-million budget shortfall, drawing the enmity of city workers.

In the only vacant seat, political aide Mitchell Englander was handily winning a northwest San Fernando Valley seat currently occupied by Councilman Greig Smith. Englander is chief of staff to Smith, who is retiring after eight years on the council.

Meanwhile, mail-in results showed nine of 10 ballot measures easily sailing to victory -– including a tax on medical marijuana, a measure to create a ratepayer advocate at the Department of Water and Power, a measure to trim pensions of newly hired police officers and firefighters and a measure to allocate more money for libraries.

The campaign was waged in a year of high anxiety over layoffs, furloughs and reduced city services. Those concerns spilled over into the races for 10 ballot measures.


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-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall