Councilmember Eric Garcetti’s two-year campaign to become Los Angeles’ first Jewish-Mexican-Italian-American mayor ended in victory early this morning when his challenger, City Controller Wendy Greuel, phoned the candidate shortly before 2 a.m. to concede.
A preliminary count released by the L.A. City Clerk’s office put the margin of victory at eight points, with Garcetti taking 53.92 percent to Gruel’s 46.07 percent. Those numbers mirrored an unofficial Loyola Marymount exit poll taken earlier on Tuesday.
With 380,108 total votes cast, Garcetti’s victory comes amid one of the lowest voter turnouts ever for an L.A. mayor’s race, with a mere 19 percent of registered voters bothering to cast a ballot.
Early returns had Greuel out in front by a slim two-point margin. And while the Garcetti camp remained publicly confident throughout the evening, campaign insiders were nervously eying their smart phones, worried that an especially low turnout could result in the kind of squeaker that would deny their candidate a definitive win until the City Clerk’s official tally three weeks from now.
Although voters had been warned that it might take weeks after Election Day for a winner in the Los Angeles mayoral race to be declared, outgoing City Councilman Eric Garcetti decisively bested the outgoing Controller, Wendy Greuel, to become the city’s 42nd mayor. Garcetti, 42, will take office July 1.
The race, which had been predicted by some pollsters to be headed toward a dead heat, was effectively over by 11 p.m. last night, when Garcetti pulled ahead of Greuel and never looked back. In a forecast of his victory made hours before, exit polling by Loyola Marymount University showed Garcetti ahead by a comfortable eight points.
By 3:15 a.m. Wednesday, the City Clerk’s final election bulletin placed the vote count as 181,995 for Garcetti (53.92 percent) and 155,497 (46.07 percent) for Greuel.
Frying Pan News will post first-hand coverage of scenes from the two candidates’ Election Night celebrations later this morning.
(Raphael “Raphe” Sonenshein is executive director of the Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Institute of Public Affairs and has headed charter-reform and neighborhood council review commissions. A California State University political science professor, Sonenshein is also an author whose books have analyzed racial and reform politics. He spoke to Frying Pan News about what he believes are the biggest tasks facing L.A.’s next mayor – as well as telling reporter Marc Haefele what candidates Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel should avoid during the campaign before the May 21 runoff election.)
The Biggest Job
The next mayor has to reinvent his office as an office of strength, because just being elected doesn’t hand you that. Once you are in you will be dealing with very powerful forces of the community and very powerful forces at City Hall —
We present the following guide to show where three front-running mayoral candidates stand on issues affecting jobs and the local economy. Except as noted, all quotes are drawn from our interviews with the candidates. (Jan Perry did not respond to interview requests.) Please note that Frying Pan News does not endorse candidates.
Jobs are extremely important but depend on a revitalized business sector.
“The first thing on my agenda is putting this city back to work, making City Hall work for everybody but then also getting jobs back here — good, middle-class, decent-paying jobs with benefits.”
“I will be the jobs tsar. I will be the person in the city that is going to go out and talk to businesses and encourage them to move to the city of Los Angeles and to grow.”
“We have a shockingly high unemployment rate – it’s 50 percent higher than the national average.
Frying Pan News continues its series of interviews with the leading mayoral candidates, who will face off in the March 5 primary. Part Two of our interview with City Councilmember Eric Garcetti appears today (click here to read Part One), followed Thursday by a conversation with City Controller Wendy Greuel.
Frying Pan News: Many in the business community would prefer the mayor to be a cheerleader for business, but in the last few years we’ve seen what happens when the economy is left to big corporations and financial institutions. How will you balance the interests of the business community and those who are desperately trying to find a path into the middle class?
Eric Garcetti: There’s no question that business is absolutely critical to our economic strength here, and by business it’s not necessarily just the large corporations – we’re talking about the mom and pop store,