No new mayor for LA LA Land

Eight candidates appeared on the mayoral ballot to replace Antonio Villaraigosa, the mayor of Los Angeles since 2005, but none were successful in capturing the majority vote in the primaries. Without a majority, there will be a runoff election on May 21, between the two frontrunners: City Councilman Eric Garcetti, and City Controller Wendy Gruel.

The election turnout this year was lower than past mayoral elections in Los Angeles. With over 2.2 million registered voters, only 7.5 percent cast their vote as of 11 p.m. Tuesday for mayor of one of the largest cities in the country. In 2009, 309,048 votes were cast and 2005 totaled 420,570, according to the office of the city clerk.

Of the 167,912 votes, 34 percent were for Garcetti and 29 percent for Gruel.

The five candidates present in the debates leading up to the election were Gruel, Garcetti, City Councilwoman Jan Perry, radio host and entertainment lawyer Kevin James, and chief strategy officer at Spokeo Emanuel Pleitez. Each candidate had their unique pitch, but was also tied down by opponent criticism.

Throughout Gruel’s campaign, she reiterated her role as a “fiscal watchdog” for Los Angeles and cited $160 million of savings from financial “fraud, waste, and abuse” by City Hall. Her opponents, as well as an article by the Los Angeles Times, claim the savings her audits found would be difficult to come by. Another gripe was whether she could be unbiased, given that the city’s water and power union has spent at least $2 million on her campaign.

Garcetti brought to the race examples of how his own district which includes Echo Park, Silver Lake, east Hollywood, and other surrounding neighborhoods has seen an increasingly vibrant business climate under his leadership. Gruel’s campaign brought Garcetti’s lease with Venoco Inc., an oil drilling company operating at Beverly Hills High School, into the limelight.

In one of the mayoral debates, Perry mentioned her support of expanding the Los Angeles Convention Center and other projects to create jobs and growth in the city. As a veteran city leader, she seems to understand the issues and has pinpointed major projects that would help the city. However, some critics believe Perry too often “sides with developers,” according to a Daily News article.

Aside from being the sole Republican, James set himself apart from the other candidates by blaming the fiscal deficit on his opponents who were in office.

Pleitez announced that he would run and bike across Los Angeles the week before the election, according to his official campaign website, which outlined a six-day schedule that started in Canoga Park and ended in San Pedro.

Without a clear winner, the next few months will see more election flyers, posters, and television ads for both Garcetti and Gruel. Come May 21, Los Angeles will have a new mayor-elect, and a looming $216 million shortfall predicted by the city.