While citywide races for the city attorney, city auditor, and city attorney have already been scheduled, other critical races for the mayor and city council remain denied.
As many as four of the city’s five city council races could head to the run-off election in November, with the closest being the city’s first downtown district where Mary Zendegas, a current councilwoman, avoids the run-off by nearly 50 votes.
The mayoral race, which has historically depended on who can win in East Long Beach, had some surprising results Tuesday night. North Long Beach Councilman Rex Richardson, trying to become the city’s first black major, was competitive in the area and seemed to have had a slim victory in the newly allied Fifth District.
His run-off opponent, Councilman Susie Price, represented Southeast Long Beach during her two terms on the Council and her high voting margins in the district showed her popularity in the area. However, Price’s appeal in north, west and central Long Beach was less impressive, according to county voting data.
Voter turnout, currently projected at 25% citywide, is sure to play a big role in November, as both candidates will have to increase total votes in their respective strengths to win.
Los Angeles County election data through Friday showed Richardson (43%) ahead of Price (39%) by about four percentage points, with Richardson adding about one point to his lead since Tuesday.
But this is where Richardson garnered his support that could make a difference in November when turnout is higher than it was in last week’s primaries.
Richardson has won seven of the city’s nine city council districts, with the largest margins in favor of Richardson in West and North Long Beach, where Richardson has served as a council member since 2014.
He beat the price by 2,369 votes in the city’s seventh, eighth and ninth boroughs, according to updated county data released Friday.
Price won the city’s third and fourth city council districts with a total of 2,889 votes more than Richardson. Price represents the third region since 2014 and has more than doubled Richardson’s support with 4,277 votes counted as of Friday.
The two are currently separated by 1,698 votes, but additional updates are expected throughout the month. There are still 506,000 ballots left in Los Angeles County, although it’s unclear how many votes are from Long Beach.
Both campaigns predicted Price would do well in East Long Beach, where more conservative voters supported the historically more moderate candidates. However, Richardson outshines Price in Zone 5.
The area used to include areas east of Long Beach Airport and around El Dorado Park but has been significantly changed through redistricting. It now includes the Bixby Knowles and Cal Heights and Los Cerritos neighborhoods west of the airport.
Republican voters could unite behind Price, and some have expressed their intention to do so in November. But Long Beach is a liberal city. More than 50% of Long Beach voters still identify as Democrats.
A poll by the Long Beach Center for Urban Policy and Policy showed that when the field was narrowed to only Price and Richardson, Democratic voters said they voted or would vote for Richardson at a rate of four to three, with roughly one-third of voters hesitating.
New sheriff in town?
The field crowded with candidates looking to impeach Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has been cut in two, with former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna due to run against Villanueva in November.
As some expected, Luna had a good show in Long Beach. He beat Villanueva and the other candidates in every city district, with a total of 16,393 votes counted for Luna as of Friday.
Villanueva came in second among Long Beach voters with 8,591 votes.
Long Beach Democrats already lined up behind Luna in the days after the primary, with several city council members and Mayor Robert Garcia urging county voters to return to Luna.
“It’s time for the current mayor to end,” Garcia said in a tweet supporting Luna.
Villanueva ran as a reformer in 2018 and ousted Sheriff Jim McDonnell, who also served as the head of the LBPD before running for mayor in 2014. However, since his election, Villanueva has become home to Democrats who backed his campaign in the afternoon.
Villanueva gave a public feed to the Board of Supervisors and challenged subpoenas to appear before the Los Angeles Supervisory Committee. Although Villanueva ran as a Democrat, she turned to the right and became an advocate against “vigilance” in the election campaign.
Luna is running as a reformist candidate, and has vowed to take on gang deputies in the district’s ranks and restore civility to office. Luna’s tenure was marked by a collegial relationship with the city council and a more contentious relationship with community activists who said his administration lacked accountability and transparency.
Villanueva (33%) has a slight lead over Luna (26%) as of Monday. About 40% of the field voted neither for Villanueva nor Luna, and the county mayoral race will be down to who can attract those votes by November.
A concerted effort by the local Democratic Party to steer voters toward Luna could lead to a former LBPD chief leading the county’s largest law enforcement agency for the second time in the past decade.
Ex-LBPD Chief Robert Luna and current President Alex Villanueva appear to be heading into the run-off for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office
New poll shows tight races to other major city-wide offices; Many voters are hesitant