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Tuesday's City Elections Deliver Few Surprises

Voters approve most measures to help ease the city's budget crisis and send incumbents back to the City Council.

Voters approved a measure to increase funding for the city library system that has endured severe cutbacks in a municipal election, which included numerous ballot measures and races for seats on the City Council and school board.

In addition to Measure L, which would increase the amount of funding set aside for public libraries, voters also backed attempts to reform the city's expensive pension system and tax marijuana sales. The measures reflected the city's $400 million budget deficit and attempts to trim it via the ballot box.

Some voters said they specifically came out to endorse the library measure and it was poised to win with 64 percent of voters supporting it with nearly all precincts counted.

Voters also appeared to endorse Measure M, a new levy of $50 per $1,000 of pot sold by medical marijuana collectives, despite an analysis by the city attorney's office that the measure "would be of little or no effect," since marijuana is illegal and nonprofit organizations are exempt from business taxes. Measure G, a charter amendment that would scale back pension benefits for future fire and police department hires, was endorsed by 74 percent of voters.

Voters also endorsed Measure P, which would require the city to put 2.75 percent of its general fund revenue into an emergency reserve account within the reserve fund. Sixty-six percent of voters backed the measure.

Measure O, which would place a $1.44 per barrel tax on oil extracted within city limits, was trailing with 51 percent voting against it.

In one of the more hotly contested races, incumbent City Councilman Jose Huizar beat back challenger Rudy Martinez, an Eagle Rock businessman, in a contest for the City Council District 14 seat that had its fair share of mudslinging. The City Council district includes Eagle Rock and Echo Park.

Huizar raced out to an early lead that he maintained as ballots were counted and had gained 65 percent of the vote with nearly all ballots counted.

Huizar declared victory early Tuesday night and was joined by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at a celebration where shouts of "Si Se Puede" filled the room.

Martinez was joined by about 50 supporters at Marty's, his restaurant and bar on York Boulevard in Highland Park, and made a concession speech flanked by his 6-year-old daughter, Mia, and 9-year-old son, Marty.

"The numbers aren't quite looking what we wanted them to be, but my God, what an experience it has been," Martinez said. "I love you all and I promise you, I'll be back to change this city. I never give up."

Huizar was joined by other City Council incumbents who easily won, including Tom LaBonge in Council District 4 that includes Hollywood. Other City Council incumbents who cruised to victory included Paul Krekorian in District 2, Tony Cardenas in District 6 and Herb J. Wesson Jr. in District 10. 

“The city's unprecedented budget crisis will force its government and its people to make very difficult choices in the months ahead," Krekorian said during his acceptance speech. "Above all else, though, our most important and perhaps most difficult mission is to solve the crisis of confidence in our city government.” 

Former Los Angeles Police Department chief and current City Councilman Bernard C. Parks was locked in a tight race to avoid a run-off with challenger Forescee Hogan-Rowles in District 8. Parks had 51 percent of the vote with nearly all votes counted in the district.

In Council District 12, retiring City Coucilman Greig Smith will be replaced by his top deputy, Mitchell Englander, who was set to win with 57 percent of the vote. 

Other citywide ballot measures that were approved by voters included measures I and J that would provide more oversight of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power by creating a ratepayer advocate to examine proposed rate hikes and by requiring the utility to provide a preliminary budget to the City Council. Measure I was leading with 78 percent of voters endorsing it and Measure J had 82 percent support.

Measure H, which would ban contractors who bid on large contracts from contributing to city political campaigns, was supported by 75 percent of voters. Measure N, which would amend the City Charter to make it comply with the Supreme Court's lifting of campaign contributions limits, was backed by 70 percent of voters. 

Measure Q, would allow the city to stop testing every qualified job applicant for some civil service jobs, was endorsed by 62 percent of voters.

Candidates in the City Council and school board races surpassed $7.5 million in spending in the waning days of the election, with about $1.5 million being spent in the campaign's final weeks. 

In the four races for Los Angeles Unified School District board, three of the four incumbents were headed to easy victories. In District 1, Marguerites Poindexter Lamotte had 75 percent of the vote. In District 3, Tamar Galatzan had 63 percent and in District 7, Richard A. Vladovic had 63 percent. 

In District 5, the race to replace Yolie Flores, who is leaving after one term, appeared to be headed for a run-off election. Luis Sanchez, an aide to board President Monica Garcia, had 45 percent of the vote, while Bennett Kayser had 39 percent and John Fernandez 16 percent. A run-off is necessary between the top two vote-getters if no one gains more than 50 percent of the vote.

Patch editors Anna Bakalis, Lindsey Baguio, Saul Daniels,  David Fonseca, Samantha Page, Anthea Raymond, Ajay Singh and Mike Szymanski contributed to this report.

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