With L.A. vote counted, Karen Bass is solid frontrunner

Los Angeles County has officially finalized the list of candidates who will face off in the Nov. 8 runoff, setting the stage for nearly a dozen bruising contests, including the mayoral showdown between US Rep. Karen Bass and the Real estate developer Rick Caruso.

Nearly a month after the June 7 election, officials at the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Friday confirmed the results of the LA mayor, city council, school board, supervisor and sheriff races, identifying in many cases the absolute winners and pave the way to the finals.

County officials spent weeks reviewing and tabulating late-arriving absentee ballots, which produced results very different from the first snapshot taken on election night. The election, in which more than 84% of ballots were cast by mail, revealed the growing political power of the LA left, which managed to unseat a council member and secured large wins for several other candidates.

Bass is now the clear frontrunner in the race to succeed LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, finishing the primary with a seven-point lead despite an onslaught of expensive campaign ads from Caruso. In other competitions, candidates who appeared to be behind on election night are now in the lead or in much stronger positions for the runoff.

Bass is already deep in runoff mode, reminding supporters that Caruso only registered as a Democrat earlier this year.

“You’re not becoming a Democrat, to tick a box,” she said at an event for her campaign’s gay, lesbian and transgender allies this week. “Being a Democrat is about a set of values, and there’s only one Democrat in this race.”

Caruso has been tending to his base in the San Fernando Valley and has been meeting with Sunland-Tujunga firefighters and restaurant patrons for the past few days in Porter Ranch – both neighborhoods that are among the city’s more conservative. The businessman, who spent tens of millions of dollars on his campaign, is facing a much more difficult time building support among elected Democrats, who might have “defected” if Caruso had come first, political adviser Eric Hacopian said.

“Considering his advantages, he underperformed in every respect,” said Hacopian, who is not involved in street racing this year.

Caruso’s team denies the notion and remains confident about his prospects.

“Rick has gone from single digits to runoff in just a few months because of his message on how to deal with homelessness, crime and corruption,” said spokesman Peter Ragone. “This fall, voters have a stark choice between a politician who says she can’t fix homelessness any time soon and a citizen leader who can cut crime and clean up LA.”

Still, Caruso faces the question of how far he can get in a city where progressive Democrats, and in some races Democratic Socialists, have made breakthrough wins in voting contests.

In the race to succeed Controller Ron Galperin, Accountant Kenneth Mejia maintained a nearly 20-point lead over opponent Councilor Paul Koretz. Mejia, whose campaign spurs on young voters, has called for deep cuts in law enforcement, a concept Koretz, a 13-year veteran at City Hall, opposes. Mejia had 43% of the vote; Koretz had almost 24%.

In the campaign for city attorney, civil rights attorney Faisal Gill led attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto by a four-point margin. Gill has promised a 100-day moratorium on misdemeanor charges, a move Feldstein Soto opposes.

Both competitions now go to a runoff.

Meanwhile, LA’s section of the Democratic Socialists of America scored a resounding victory on the East Side, where their favorite candidate was deposed Councilman Gil Cedillo, a 24-year political veteran who served in Sacramento and City Hall.

Cedillo lost to community activist Eunisses Hernandez, who will become the council’s first abolitionist — an advocate of dismantling prison systems, prison facilities and law enforcement agencies and channeling the savings into mental health care, addiction services, affordable housing and poverty reduction programs. During the campaign, she said she would vote against hiring police officers, including recruits, who would replace those retiring or stepping down.

In his grant statement, Cedillo said he has dedicated his life to public service and is grateful to have worked with “so many incredible people” to improve the lives of Angelenos.

The city councilman, who tested positive for the coronavirus on Sunday, said he is proud to have worked in Sacramento to ensure residents have access to driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status. He also touted his work at City Hall, helping voters weather the pandemic and building “housing of all kinds” in his district, which stretches from Highland Park to Pico-Union.

“I look forward to completing my time on the City Council, completing projects and preparing to serve in a new way,” he said.

Hernandez, who had already declared victory, will be sworn in later in the year. In an interview, she thanked her supporters and said she will spend the coming months working out her strategy for the district. She promised to build on Cedillo’s achievements.

“We will continue and take much of the amazing work they are doing to another level so that we can have care and access to health services and extremely affordable housing in our communities,” she said. “I am grateful to the incumbent for all the work he has done and all the foundations he has laid for someone like me to run for office.”

Cedillo’s downfall wasn’t the only success for the LA left. In a district stretching from Echo Park to Hollywood, union organizer Hugo Soto-Martinez held a nine-point lead over councilman Mitch O’Farrell. The competition now goes into a runoff. Activists from the Democratic Socialists of America had campaigned heavily for Soto-Martinez.

In waterfront neighborhoods, civil rights attorney Erin Darling had a nearly six-point lead over city attorney Traci Park in the race to succeed Councilor Mike Bonin. These two candidates, who have sharply divided views on homelessness and public safety, now face a runoff.

Those first spots have been celebrated for weeks by activists who have opposed plans to hire more police and council members over their decision to ban homeless encampments near certain facilities like public schools and daycares.

Josh Androsky, an adviser who worked on the Hernandez and Soto-Martinez campaigns, said early results show the LA left “had their biggest election victory ever.”

“For me, the most important and necessary outcome of this election cycle is that we build a really progressive base,” he said. “I’ve lived here all my life and I’ve never seen anything like it.”

If the runoff follows the same pattern, LA will show it’s a progressive stronghold protecting Angelenos at a time when the Supreme Court is “robbing their rights,” he said.

Androsky said progressive activists could become even more active in two more council contests leading up to Nov. 8.

On the Westside, political adviser Katy Yaroslavsky will meet attorney Sam Yebri in the race to succeed Koretz. And in communities near the Port of Los Angeles, attorney Tim McOsker will face off against neighborhood leader Danielle Sandoval in the contest to succeed council member Joe Buscaino.

In the district contests, Supervisor Hilda Solis and Assessor Jeffrey Prang won outright, securing more than 50% of the votes. But Sheriff Alex Villanueva has been forced into a runoff where he faces retired Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna.

Meanwhile, state senator Bob Hertzberg meets West Hollywood councilwoman Lindsey Horvath in a race to replace district head Sheila Kuehl in a district that includes parts of the Westside and the San Fernando Valley.

In the Los Angeles Unified School District, two of this year’s three board races are also facing a runoff.

In the San Fernando Valley, LA Board of Education President Kelly Gonez was unable to fend off a runoff and will face a challenge from high school Spanish teacher Marvin Rodriguez. Gonez, supported by supporters from the Charter School and the district employees’ unions, led Rodriguez with 48% to 31%.

At the east end of LA Unified, Rocío Rivas, an assistant to board member Jackie Goldberg, will face Maria Brenes, a nonprofit executive, in the runoff. Brenes had the support of several union organizations including the LA County Federation of Labor and outgoing board member Monica Garcia. Rivas, who led Brenes 44% to 30%, was backed by the teachers’ union.

On the Westside, board member Nick Melvoin drove to a resounding victory, avoiding a runoff and earning a second term.

Authors Howard Blume and Julia Wick contributed to this report.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-07-01/2022-los-angeles-election-results-karen-bass-frontrunner With L.A. vote counted, Karen Bass is solid frontrunner

Alley Einstein

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