2020 L.A. County November Election Round-Up
With lots of votes still being counted, the 2020 presidential election remains too close to call. In this post, Streetsblog reviews the current results for L.A. County, where plenty of votes are still being counted, so all these outcomes remain provisional.
Vote totals for this article are based on result totals available this morning. For the up-to-the-moment totals, see the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder 2020 November election results page.
Voters Support Criminal Justice Reform in Countywide Races
The killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police this past May sparked a global movement for change and injected new momentum into Black Lives Matter’s seven-year struggle to see law enforcement held accountable for violence against Black people. While the ultimate goal of “defunding the police” has yet to gain the traction hoped for, there have been some notable steps taken that will redirect resources toward investment in services that lead with care, not criminalization. City council recently voted in favor of seeking nonprofit partners for a pilot program that would see 911 calls for service involving non-violent, non-criminal subjects redirected to a team of social workers and mental health professionals, for example.
But given that the county controls so much of the funding for such services, the passage of Measure J – the effort to shift some locally-controlled unrestricted county funding away from law enforcement and into community counseling, mental health services, youth development programs, small businesses, job creation, and affordable housing – was essential to making this effort sustainable. The Measure is predicted to pass, with current vote totals showing just over 57 percent in favor.
The push for reform of the criminal justice system also got a little bit easier with what appears to be the ouster of incumbent District Attorney Jackie Lacey.
Challenger and presumed winner (currently showing 53.8 percent) George Gascón had run on a platform of reform that earned him the ire of law-and-order types; police unions up and down the state poured millions into Lacey’s coffers in an effort to defeat him. But the changing of the guard is more a product of the sustained campaign to see Lacey ousted – for years she has declined to prosecute police involved in hundreds of fatal force incidents and has refused to meet with the families of those whose loved ones were killed or brutalized by police and their supporters. Most notably, Lacey’s husband pulled a gun on Black Lives Matter activists this past March, when they showed up at Lacey’s door at 5:30 a.m. to protest her record of giving cops a pass. “This is an important win to show the people can and will hold even the most powerful D.A. in the country accountable,” said Kendrick Sampson, actor and co-founder of BLD PWR, in a statement released by Black Lives Matter L.A.
L.A. City Council Shifts Toward Livability Somewhat
If current leads hold, there will be three new faces on the 15-member L.A. City Council. All three new members have relatively strong records in support of urban livability. Already sworn in a couple weeks ago, Council District 14’s Kevin de León was elected by an outright majority in March. De León has pledged to make supportive and affordable housing among his top priorities. As a leader in the state legislature, de León clashed with Big Oil interests to pass much needed gas tax and climate emission reduction laws.
L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is termed out of his county seat and appears headed back to the L.A. City Council where he previously served from 1991-2002. Ridley-Thomas currently leads with 61.25 percent over Grace Yoo’s 38.75 percent. The winner will replace termed-out Councilmember Herb Wesson in the 10th Council District, which includes significant portions of South L.A. and Koreatown. Ridley-Thomas has been a consistently progressive voice on the County Board of Supervisors, on the Metro board, in the state legislature, and on the City Council. He has been a strong fighter for equity, including for investments for his lower-income predominantly Black and Latino South L.A. district. At Metro he championed Crenshaw light rail, the new SEED school, the Rail2River multi-use walk/bike path, and much more.
In a race that remains very close, challenger Nithya Raman currently has a lead over incumbent Councilmember David Ryu. Right now, Raman leads with 52.38 percent to Ryu’s 47.62 percent. Raman is a progressive and savvy planner endorsed by Bernie Sanders, Bike the Vote, and Streets for All. Ryu is a more centrist Democrat endorsed by Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi. Raman has prioritized ending homelessness, achieving racial equity, and preventing the climate crisis. Ryu has a record of opposing road safety improvements, including bikeways; this contrasts with Raman’s support for “plentiful transit” and “safe bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.”
Holly Mitchell Poised to Become County Supervisor
In the race for County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’ South L.A. seat, Holly Mitchell is the presumed winner with 60.86 percent of votes right now. As a state legislator, Mitchell has been a leader for equity and low-income residents. Her stated priorities include ending homelessness, reforming the criminal justice system, expanding healthcare, and furthering environmental justice. She is expected to prevail against former L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson, a Democrat who recently became more vocal with regard to gentrification and police reform (especially when facing his run-off against Mitchell) but has a record of largely toeing a more establishment line. If Mitchell’s substantial lead holds, all five supervisors – who all sit on the Metro board – will be women. Four of five will be progressive Democrats.
City Round-Up: Alhambra, Burbank, Culver City, Downey, Pomona, Santa Monica, South Pasadena and Whittier
In Alhambra, Sasha Renée Pérez received 57.6 percent of the votes to displace incumbent David Mejia for the City Council District 4 seat. Pérez ran a progressive campaign pushing to create a Climate Action Plan. She supports improved public transportation, bike lanes, open space, complete streets and making the city’s local Alhambra Community Transit (ACT) system more comprehensive. Her stance on public safety also contrasts with Mejia; her platform focusing more on “prevention efforts, such as strengthening neighborhood watch programs, installing speed bumps, ensuring youth have access to supportive year-round programs and providing access to mental health resources.”
Also in Alhambra, Measure V is passing (76.5 percent.) The measure establishes by-district voting, and sets “limits on campaign contributions and prohibitions on any contributions from property developers, contractors and political action committees.“
Burbank is poised to elect complete streets advocate Konstantine Anthony as a City Councilmember. Anthony is currently in first place (20.9 percent – 13,973 votes) in an eight-way race for two seats; his nearest challengers are Nick Schultz (15.50 percent – 10,362 votes) and Tamala Takahashi (14.86 percent – 9,934 votes.) Streets for All endorsed Anthony, as well as walking advocate Sharis Manokian, who is currently in seventh (7.73 percent – 5,168 votes).
Incumbent Downey Mayor Blanca Pacheco (69.66 percent – 4,403 votes) has a big lead over challenger Alexandria Contreras (30.34 percent – 1,918 votes) in the race for Downey’s City Council District 1 seat. Contreras prominently opposed Metro’s planned freeway widening that would demolish hundreds of Downey homes. After Contreras’ opposition went viral, Pacheco stated that Downey “cannot support an alternative that will negatively impact hundreds of homes in our community” while still praising the 5 Freeway widening for bringing “transportation, connectivity and economic benefits to Downey.”
Pomona Mayor and Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority Board Chair Tim Sandoval appears to have handily won reelection. Sandoval is currently receiving 63.68 percent in the five-way race for Mayor. Sandoval is seen as a potential future San Gabriel Valley representative on the Metro board, when Duarte City Councilmember John Fasana retires next month.
In a 21-way race for four City Council seats, Santa Monica appears to have elected Phil Brock (11.43 percent – 15,155 votes), Gleam Davis (11.40 percent – 15,113 votes), Christine Parra (10.69 percent – 14,176 votes), and Oscar De La Torre (10.34 percent – 13,707 votes.) Streets for All and Bike the Vote endorsed Gleam and the fifth through seventh place candidates Terry O’Day (10.32 percent – 13,688 votes), Ted Winterer (10.03 percent – 13,297 votes), and Ana Maria Jara (9.45 percent – 12,531 votes) – some of whom could potentially shift into winning positions as additional votes are tallied.
In the city of South Pasadena, immigration attorney Evelyn Zneimer (50.38 percent – 1,122 votes) is leading against Bob Joe (49.62 percent – 1,105 votes) in the city’s Council District 1. Zneimer’s margin is only 17 votes, so the outcome is by no means certain. Bike/walk advocate Michelle Hammond (35.25 percent – 725 votes) is second to Jon Primuth (41.61 percent – 856 votes) in a four-way race in the city’s Council District 3. Both Zneimer and Hammond are endorsed by Bike the Vote and Streets for All.
Caro Jauregui, a co-executive director at California Walks, won her race for the vacant Area 1 seat in the Whittier City School District by default. Election officials determined her challenger Kelsey Anne Dahn did not live in the area and was disqualified.
Mixed Results on Education Races
California Proposition 15, which Streetsblog endorsed, would alter property taxes to provide billions for public education. Prop 15 appears to be headed to a 51.7 to 48.3 percent defeat, though the narrow margin means that the outcome is not quite certain.
L.A. County Measure RR is passing with 70.91 percent approval. RR allows LAUSD to issue $7 billion in bonds to update classrooms, labs, and technology; reduce asbestos, earthquake, water quality hazards; and replace/renovate aging school classrooms and buildings.
For those unfamiliar with L.A. school board politics, the political parties would broadly identify as “pro-charter school” and “pro-public education.” Last night produced a split result, with public education team incumbent Scott Schmerelson (54.17 percent) apparently re-elected and charter school team newcomer Tanya Franklin (58.07 percent) apparently upsetting incumbent Patricia Castellanos.
A much more detailed report on the education measures will be posted later today at SBLA sister site Los Angeles Education Examiner.
Incumbents – Many Excellent – Returning to State Legislature
L.A. County is returning plenty of incumbents to the state legislature. Many of these electeds have strong records on urban livability, including SBLA Streetsie Award honoree Assemblymember Laura Friedman, and Assemblymembers Richard Bloom and Miguel Santiago.
Bike the Vote and Streets for All endorsee Fatima Iqbal-Zubair is currently losing (38.15 percent) to incumbent Assemblymember Mike Anthony Gipson (61.85 percent).
Potential Big Changes if Biden’s National Lead Holds
There is some speculation that if Joe Biden is elected president, then several L.A. County leaders may depart for positions in Washington. Among the possible departures are L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, and Metro CEO Phil Washington. Both Garcia and Garcetti currently serve on the Metro board. Garcetti controls four seats on that board; his departure would shift that power to L.A. City Council President Nury Martínez.
Sahra Sulaiman, Kristopher Fortin, and Damien Newton contributed to this article. Find national election round-ups at Streetsblog USA and Streetsblog Mass – and more California election round-ups at Streetsblog California and Streetsblog San Francisco.