Villaraigosa Cruises, City Attorney Heads for Runoff

Los Angeles voters headed to the polls Tuesday to decide several races, including mayor, city council seats, city attorney and city controller.

Election Results: LA City Results Page

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa cruised to victory against a large field of challengers. Also on Tuesday' ballot are eight City Council seats, three seats on the school board, four for the community college board of trustees, and five ballot measures.

Mayoral Race

With an unbeatable $2.9 million campaign war chest and a lack of serious competition, Villaraigosa coasted to a second term Tuesday at the helm of the nation's second-largest city.

There were 10 candidates on the mayoral ballot, but none stood much of a chance against the well-financed incumbent, despite uncertainty about whether he will actually serve out another term or make a run for governor.

The low-key mayoral campaign leading up to the election contrasted sharply with the bitter 2005 race that pitted Villaraigosa against then-incumbent Jim Hahn.

Attorney Walter Moore, who received 2.77 percent of the vote in the 2005 primary, raised $208,122 for his race, making him the most serious of the nine challengers facing Villaraigosa. But he finished a distant second behind the incumbent.

Last year, Moore authored Jamiel's Law, a proposed ballot initiative that would have allowed Los Angeles police officers to arrest gang members in the country illegally. The petition effort failed to garner enough signatures to qualify the initiative for the ballot.

At the Bonaventure hotel in downtown Los Angeles, Villaraigosa thanked his supporters for their support and forgiveness -- a apparent reference to an affair the mayor had with a television news reporter that led to his divorce not long after he was first elected mayor.

"I stand before you all humbled tonight, humbled by your support and your confidence," Villaraigosa told his supporters at the Bonaventure hotel in downtown Los Angeles, where he watched the election returns. "I'm humbled by your continued trust and your continuing forgiveness.

"I know these are tough times for many of our families," he said. "You see, I've traveled around our city for the last few months, and I've witnessed the anxiety rising. I've seen despair in the faces of families underwater, their mortgages, just a paycheck away from losing everything. And I have a simple message for Los Angeles tonight: We're going to rebound from this economic crisis and we will emerge stronger than ever."

The mayor admitted that he has "made my share of mistakes," but he added, "I have never lost my focus on the task at hand."

Former Los Angeles Laker Magic Johnson introduced Villaraigosa, touting the city's low crime numbers and investment in public transportation and schools, issues the mayor has frequently highlighted as among his accomplishments.

"My friend Antonio is a man of action," Johnson said. "He is the hardest working mayor in the country, and he fights for every single person who lives in Los Angeles, no matter rich, poor, middle class. He's fighting for all of us."

Also on the mayoral ballot were David Hernandez, who led the fight against a city measure that extended term limits for council members, and David "Zuma Dogg" Saltsburg, a gadfly who typically has attended council meetings in an oversized white T-shirt, black sunglasses and a knit cap but who began wearing a suit once he qualified for the ballot.

Saltsburg was briefly questioned by LAPD detectives last week about threats he allegedly made against fellow candidate Craig X. Rubin. Rubin lodged a complaint, but Saltsburg vehemently denied making threats and was released after the questioning.

The remaining candidates on the ballot were Carlos Alvarez, Gordon Turner, Phil Jennerjahn, James Harris and Bruce Darian.

City Attorney Race

City Councilman Jack Weiss and former Deputy District Attorney Carmen Trutanich will square off in a May runoff election in
their race to succeed termed-out City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo.

Weiss finished atop the five-candidate field, but he fell short of the 50 percent of the vote plus one he needed to claim the seat outright and avoid the May 19 runoff.

"I stand here tonight tremendously grateful that the people of the city have voted the way they did today," Weiss told supporters at the Bonaventure hotel in downtown Los Angeles. "I am very grateful that the people of this city have given me such a mandate in this primary election."

The city attorney's race is about "who is on your side fighting for what's right," Weiss said.

Weiss is a former federal prosecutor who has represented the city's 5th District, which includes parts of West Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley, since 2001.

Weiss is the chairman of the council's Public Safety Committee and frequently appears alongside Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and police Chief William Bratton to discuss police hiring and the department's backlog of unanalyzed physical evidence from sexual assaults. Bratton has endorsed Weiss for city attorney.

Weiss had the most successful fundraising effort of any of the city attorney candidates, with $1.68 million in his campaign fund.

Trutanich raised the second-highest amount with $729,000. Trutanich worked as a deputy district attorney for Los Angeles County, prosecuting gang-related crimes before transferring to the office's environmental crimes/OSHA division.

In 1998, Trutanich left the District Attorney's Office to form his own firm, Trutanich-Michel LLP. He was endorsed by District Attorney Steve Cooley, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, the Los Angeles Times and Daily News.

Weiss has repeatedly attacked Trutanich's decision to list his job as environmental attorney on the ballot, accusing him of defending companies charged with polluting the environment. Weiss emphasized his support from environmentalists, including the current and past presidents of Heal the Bay, Mark Gold and Adi Liberman, respectively.

Trutanich campaign advisers John Shallman defended the candidate's record.

Weiss "skipped 38 percent of council meetings and missed hundreds of votes to protect the environment," Shallman said. "As an environmental prosecutor, Carmen Trutanich tried the first felony environmental crime in the state of California and, unlike Jack Weiss, as city attorney he'll show up to work."

Also on the ballot were Deputy City Attorney Michael Amerian, attorney Noel Weiss and prosecutor David Berger.

City Council Races

The six-way race to fill the vacant Fifth District seat on the Los Angeles City Council was headed toward a May runoff, but with vote-by-mail ballots tallied, all of the candidates were still in the hunt.

A candidate needs 50 percent of the vote plus one to win in a primary. The Fifth District seat, which represents West Los Angeles and part of the San Fernando Valley, is being vacated by Jack Weiss, who is running for city attorney.

Former Assemblyman and West Hollywood City Councilman Paul Koretz held a narrow lead over the candidate field with 19.9 percent of the early vote. He has been endorsed by seven members of the Los Angeles City Council and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Attorney David T. Vahedi, who was endorsed by the Daily News, was a close second with 19.6 percent.

Attorney Ron Galperin has been endorsed by the Los Angeles Times. Adeena Bleich, who ran the 2005 mayoral campaign of former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg, has received backing from former Mayor Richard Riordan.

Attorney Robert Schwartz and businesswoman Robyn Ritter Simon, who has served on the West Los Angeles Area Planning Commission, round out the candidates for the 5th District, which includes the communities of Encino, Sherman Oaks, Westwood, Cheviot Hills and the Fairfax District. 

Los Angeles voters approved a ballot measure three years ago that allowed Los Angeles City Council members to serve three terms instead of two. Proposition R allows five current council members, who otherwise would have been termed out of office, to serve for an additional four years.
  
In the First District race, Councilman Ed Reyes pounded community activist Jesse Rosas. Councilman Dennis Zine, in the Third District, easily defeated small-business owner Jeff Bornstein.
  
Winning re-election without opposition was Seventh District Councilman Richard Alarcon, who held the seat from 1993 to 1999 and was eligible to return to council under the relaxed term limits, and Councilwoman Jan Perry in the 9th District.

In the 11th District, Councilman Bill Rosendahl easily defeated hydrographer Harry "Craig" Wilson to win a second term. 

Council President Eric Garcetti beat public-interest attorney Gary Slossberg in the 13th District, and Councilwoman Janice Hahn defeated educator Christ Salabaj to win a third term in the 15th District.

City Controller Race

City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel cruised to victory in the race to take over for Laura Chick as city controller and become
the city's financial watchdog. With more than $1 million in campaign funds and television commercials in heavy rotation, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel was easily the most visible candidate for the office.

Since 2002, Greuel has represented the Los Angeles City Council's 2nd District in the San Fernando Valley and served on the council's Transportation, Budget and Finance, Audits and Governmental Efficiency, and Energy and Environment committees.

Also running for controller was Nick Patsaouras, the former president of the Water and Power Commission and a former member of the Metro Board of Directors. He served on advisory committees to oversee the construction of Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center and the new Los Angeles Police Department headquarters.

Also on the ballot was Kathleen "Suzy" Evans, who has raised $4,489 for her campaign.

Greuel will take over for Chick, who is prevented by term limits from running again. She did not endorse anyone in the race to replace her.

The city controller is responsible for conducting performance audits, debt monitoring and fiscal and operational oversight of city departments.

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