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.
Today we continue our series of interviews with Los Angeles’ front-running mayoral candidates, with the second part of a talk with City Controller Wendy Greuel. (Next week: Kevin James. See also, Part One of the Wendy Greuel interview, as well as Parts One and Two of our Eric Garcetti interview.)
Frying Pan News: Corporate lobbyists spent more than $30 million last year to influence decisions at City Hall – far more than unions or any other group. Do you think that big business has too much power over local government?
Wendy Greuel: Thirty million dollars is a lot of money. I will, as mayor – as I do as controller and as I did as councilmember — ensure that there is a transparent process and that no one has more access than another to the kinds of decisions that are made in the city.
Today we continue our series of interviews with Los Angeles’ front-running mayoral candidates, with the first part of a talk with City Controller Wendy Greuel, who has previously served as an L.A. City Councilmember. (Tomorrow: Wendy Greuel interview, Part Two. See interviews with Eric Garcetti, Part One and Part Two.)
Frying Pan News: If your opponents are capable and honorable people, why are you running for mayor – why not just sit back and let one of them take the office?
Wendy Greuel: I have the unique experiences that none of the other candidates have. I’ve worked for Tom Bradley, one of the greatest mayors we’ve had in Los Angeles. On the federal level I worked with Henry Cisneros at the Department of Housing and Urban Development – not only on national homeless programs but [by] being here after the Northridge earthquake.
Update: KPPC FM’s Hayley Fox reports that L.A. City Councilwoman and mayoral candidate Jan Perry is also declining Walmart campaign funds.
Los Angeles’ two top mayoral candidates announced Thursday they will not accept campaign contributions from Walmart, which is locked in a battle with community and labor groups over the retail giant’s plans to open a 3300-square-foot grocery store in Chinatown.
The pledges by L.A. City Councilman Eric Garcetti and his chief opponent, City Controller Wendy Greuel, bring new focus to Saturday’s protest march and rally against Walmart. Both candidates have endorsed the June 30 action.
“Los Angeles loses if we run a race to the bottom in terms of wages and working conditions,” Garcetti said. “Our economy needs good middle class jobs to get back on track, and that’s what we should be working toward.”
The two candidates urged other elected politicians to also refuse money from Walmart.