VENICE, CA — The polls are closed in Venice and Mar Vista, and voters will soon know whether there will be runoff races for county-wide races like Los Angeles City Council Mayor and Los Angeles County Sheriff. (Scroll for real-time results below.)
As expected, Rep. Karen Bass and billionaire real estate developer Rick Caruso jumped ahead of the field in the race for Los Angeles mayor Tuesday evening with the release of early balloting results -- and the two are likely headed for a November runoff.
In the initial results released by the Los Angeles County Registrar/County Clerk -- which represent ballots returned through Monday -- Caruso received 90,579 votes, or 40.65%, with Bass trailing close behind with 85,164 votes, or 38.22%.
Bass, D-Los Angeles, and Caruso were already the clear front-runners according to polls, with a tally released Monday showing Bass leading with 38% of likely voters' support and Caruso close behind with 32%.
Initial results Tuesday night showed Councilman Kevin de León with just 7.13% of the vote, while community activist Gina Viola received 5.12%.
If the results hold as more ballots are counted, Bass and Caruso will advance to the November general election, although some campaign watchers have pondered whether Caruso -- with his mighty self-funded campaign war chest and weeks-long advertising blitz -- could gather more than 50% of the primary vote and avoid the runoff.
But such a result appears to be a longshot, given Bass' strong support base and the overall number of candidates on the ballot.
Bass, 68, would be Los Angeles' first female mayor and only the second Black mayor, after Tom Bradley, who led the city from 1973 to 1993.
Bass would also be the first sitting House member to be elected mayor of Los Angeles since 1953, when Rep. Norris Poulson was elected. Then-Reps. James Roosevelt, Alphonzo Bell and Xavier Becerra lost campaigns for mayor in 1965, 1969 and 2001.
Bass was elected to the House in 2010 and was chair of the Congressional Black Caucus from 2019-21. She was under consideration to be President Joe Biden's 2020 running mate, but then-Sen. Kamala Harris, D- California, was chosen instead.
Bass' campaign has also highlighted her work as an activist before holding elected office. In 1990, she founded the nonprofit Community Coalition, with the goal of transforming social and economic conditions in South Los Angeles.
Her campaign's platform includes plans to address climate change, homelessness and public safety.
To reduce crime, Bass stresses the need for community-based investments to prevent the root causes of crime, including drug treatment and mental health services, housing, outreach, domestic violence assistance and youth programs.
Her public safety plan also calls for the hiring of civilian personnel within the Los Angeles Police Department to move desk officers to patrol, bringing the department to its authorized force of 9,700. As of May 17, the department had 9,352 sworn personnel.
Her campaign calls for temporary housing and permanent supportive housing to get the city's unhoused population off the street, setting an ambitious goal of housing 15,000 people by the end of her first year as mayor. Her temporary housing plan includes identifying available city-owned land; converting existing motels, hotels, closed hospitals and vacant commercial buildings; and partnering with religious and community institutions, as well as private companies.
To build long-term and affordable housing, she is calling for policies that will expedite affordable housing developments and state funding to increase units through the Project Homekey program. She also calls for more affordable housing, saying 352,000 people in Los Angeles are at risk of becoming homeless.
Bass also released a climate change plan and said that as mayor she would help lead the city to its goal of achieving 100% clean energy by 2035, as well as continue efforts to decarbonize buildings and achieve a zero emission Port of Los Angeles.
Caruso, 63, is the developer behind The Grove, Palisades Village and other shopping centers. He was born in Los Angeles and served as the president of the civilian Police Commission after being appointed to the panel by Mayor James Hahn in August 2001, as well as on the Board of Water and Power Commissioners.
In January -- about three weeks before announcing his bid for mayor in a city almost entirely run by Democrats -- Caruso changed his voter registration to Democrat after almost a decade of being registered with no party preference. He was registered as a Republican before that.
He has focused his campaign's platform on expanding temporary homeless shelters with a goal of creating 30,000 beds in 300 days, banning encampments, increasing the LAPD's force and addressing corruption at City Hall, noting the indictment of three City Council members since 2020.
On his campaign website, he criticizes the cost of the city's Proposition HHH program aimed at building 10,000 new units of permanent supportive housing and said he will have a team conduct an audit of wasteful city spending. While Caruso's website says the average cost of the program is $700,000 per unit, the city's controller put the average cost under $600,000.
Under Caruso's plan, projects that cost more than $350,000 per unit would be canceled, and he said he would prioritize projects that keep costs low by using modular housing, shipping containers and other cheaper methods to build housing. He also said he would focus on tiny homes, Project Roomkey and Project Homekey efforts, as well as using land owned by the city to create affordable housing or shelters.
Caruso, who was endorsed by the union that represents LAPD officers, has made rising crime in Los Angeles -- a trend that has occurred in large cities across the U.S. during the pandemic -- a centerpiece of his campaign and pledged to add 1,500 new officers to the LAPD's force in his first term. The city's budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year budget is aimed at expanding the LAPD's sworn personnel to 9,735, but attrition and hiring delays have raised doubts of whether that more modest goal can even be met.
Caruso's public safety plan also includes expanding the LAPD's Gun Unit, expanding laws regarding the safe storage of firearms, doubling the number of gang prevention workers, and making it mandatory for the Los Angeles city attorney to prosecute misdemeanors. He also called for the statewide $950 minimum for felony theft charges to be reduced.
De León, 55, has served on the Los Angeles City Council since October 2020, after a special election for the District 14 seat vacated by Jose Huizar, who was charged in a federal investigation into bribery and corruption. De León previously served as the president pro tempore of the California Senate, where he served from 2010-18. He served in the state Assembly from 2006-10.
One of de León's early moves on the City Council was a series of motions as part of his "A Way Home" initiative to have the city develop a plan to create 25,000 homeless housing units by 2025. Along with building more shelters and housing for people who are unhoused, De León's campaign calls for mandating affordable housing in all new developments and ensuring that tenants have a right to counsel when facing eviction.
He also advocates expanding the number of social workers and mental health professionals that respond to mental health crises and calls for service related to homelessness, instead of police officers.
During a debate with Caruso and other candidates advocating for expanding the LAPD's force, de León took aim at the plans, saying they would come with added cost to Angelenos. Like Bass, de León called for bringing the department to its currently budgeted level of 9,700 officers.
Along with Viola, the race for mayor also includes runs from real estate agent Mel Wilson, business executive Craig Greiwe, social justice advocate Alex Gruenenfelder Smith, lawyer Andrew Kim and business owner John "Jsamuel" Jackson.
Early election results show Kim with 2.29% of the vote, Smith with 1.07%, Greiwe with 0.4%, Wilson with 0.33% and Jackson with 0.3%.
The race initially included Councilman Joe Buscaino, City Attorney Mike Feuer, and entrepreneur Ramit Varma before the three dropped out in May. Feuer threw his support behind Bass, while Buscaino and Varma endorsed Caruso.
The campaigns have brought in a total of $47.5 million, most from Caruso himself, who has largely self-funded his campaign with nearly $34 million.
Along with the race for mayor, Los Angeles voters on Tuesday will decide on citywide races for controller and city attorney, as well as City Council districts 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 and 15.
The top two candidates in each race will continue to a runoff in November, unless one candidate receives more than 50% of the vote during the primary.
Voters weighed in on a number of Los Angeles County positions, including Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and Los Angeles County Sheriff. Statewide, California voters cast their initial votes for California governor, with Gov. Gavin Newsom defeating challengers and moving to the November election, AP reports.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva's bid for a second term will move to a November runoff election against former Long Beach police Chief Robert Luna, with the pair jumping to distant leads Tuesday evening according to early ballot results.
Early returns showed Villanueva leading the nine-person field with 30.4% of the vote, while Luna collected 27.9%. Sheriff's Lt. Eric Strong was a distant third with 12.8% of the vote.
Over the past century, only one incumbent sheriff in the county has lost a re-election bid. That was four years ago, when Villanueva achieved a stunning upset of Sheriff Jim McDonnell, riding to an election victory with strong backing from reform-minded community groups and Democrats.
But over the past four years, Villanueva's support among those groups has waned as he repeatedly clashed with the Democrat-dominated Board of Supervisors over funding and policy matters, fought back against claims of "deputy gangs" within the agency, defied subpoenas to appear before the Civilian Oversight Commission and refused to enforce the county's COVID-19 vaccination mandate among his deputies and department employees.
He has openly criticized "progressive" policies and politicians, most notably District Attorney George Gascón, and assailed movements to "defund" law enforcement agencies.
Those stances, however, have helped solidify his support among many of those working for him, exemplified by his endorsement by the Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs.
In a campaign statement, Villanueva's campaign insists he has worked to restore public trust in the sheriff's department, pointing to the rollout of body-worn cameras and boosting minimum requirements for new deputies. The campaign also boasts the agency is "the most diverse in the nation."
"In his next term, Sheriff Villanueva will work to reduce violent crime, compassionately clean up homeless encampments and hold public officials accountable for their actions," according to his campaign.
Luna argued during the campaign that the sheriff's department is being "mismanaged" by Villanueva and said he will work to restore trust in the agency. He also touted his position as an outsider with no connections to the sheriff's department.
"Growing up in East Los Angeles, patrolled by the sheriff's department, opened my eyes to examples of both good and bad policing, and inspired my 36-year career in law enforcement," Luna said in a candidate statement.
He said he will work to "modernize" the sheriff's department and its jail system and improve the mental well-being of deputies and employees.
Strong said his perspectives on law enforcement have been shaped by personal experiences as a crime victim who has had negative interactions with police, and as someone who has had relatives incarcerated or killed by law enforcement. A former Marine and Compton police officer, Strong said he will "move decisively" to eliminate deputy gangs and work with the inspector general and oversight agencies.
He added that he opposes construction of a new central jail, but wants to work to provide alternatives to incarceration to keep people out of the jail system and "break the cycle of addiction, petty crime and homelessness." He also vows to "put the needs of victims first and take steps to protect them from their perpetrators and re-victimization."
Six other candidates were also vying for the sheriff's office, but all were effectively eliminated with the release of early returns, which put the race out of reach.
The other hopefuls were sheriff's Sgt. Karla Carranza, Los Angeles Airport Police Chief Cecil Rhambo, retired Sheriff's Capt. Matt Rodriguez, parole agent April Saucedo Hood, retired Sheriff's Capt. Britta Steinbrenner and retired sheriff's Cmdr. Eli Vera.
For all the county and statewide positions, the two candidates with the most votes on Tuesday will move forward to the Nov. 8 general election. If a candidate in the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, District 3 race receives more than 50 percent of the vote, they will win outright and bypass the Nov. 8 election. District 3 includes part of Venice and Mar Vista.
Those running for Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, District 3 include:
The candidates for LA Co. Sheriff are:
The candidates for State Senate District 26 include:
And those running for State Senate District 30 are:
Real-time results are below — use the scroll on the right to get to the race of your choice (they are in alphabetical order). Patch will be updating the results throughout the night as votes are tallied — refresh the page for the latest updates.
Can't see the widget below? Click here for all Los Angeles County election results.
For a complete guide to statewide races, see the CalMatters California Election 2022 Voter Guide.
- City News Service contributed to this report.
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