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Garcetti holds onto lead to become next LA mayor

City councilman Eric Garcetti addresses a crowd of about 2,100 supporters Tuesday night, as the votes were being tallied.

By Fiona Kirby

May 22, 2013 10:23 a.m.

Angelenos elected City Councilman Eric Garcetti as the 42nd mayor of Los Angeles by a margin of 8 percentage points in Tuesday’s election.

Garcetti held an eight-point lead over City Controller Wendy Greuel, with about 54 percent of the vote. Greuel trailed Garcetti with 46 percent, or about 155,500 votes, according to the L.A City Clerk’s office.

Greuel called Garcetti early Wednesday morning and conceded the mayoral election, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The race between Garcetti and Greuel was close for much of the election season; the vote in the primary election in March was split between Garcetti, with 33 percent, and Greuel, with 29 percent. Because no candidate received 50 percent of the vote, the top two candidates had to compete again in the runoff election Tuesday.

Garcetti looked back on his campaign as he addressed a crowd of about 2,100 supporters in Hollywood Tuesday night, while the votes were being tallied.

“We didn’t have the most money or the biggest endorsements, but we had a people-power campaign,” he said.

Meanwhile, Greuel spoke to a crowd of about 400 supporters who gathered in downtown Los Angeles to await the ballot counts.

“No one said it’s gonna be easy or quick, and sometimes the day in politics doesn’t end,” Greuel said.

Neither of the candidates are as well-known as mayoral candidates from past years. Both campaigns focused much more on advertising endorsements the candidates received from prominent individuals or groups, said Raphael Sonenshein, a political science professor at California State University, Los Angeles.

In past debates, Garcetti said he intends to ease the job-seeking process for L.A. residents, carry out pension reform for city jobs, and facilitate greater communication between the city and its residents.

Garcetti has said he is also interested in partnering with Los Angeles-based colleges like UCLA because he thinks the city could benefit from more students immediately entering the Los Angeles job market upon graduation.

But once Garcetti is sworn in on July 1, he will probably focus more on smaller tasks rather than big picture items, Sonenshein said.

“It’s problems of fixing things like cracked sidewalks, potholes, and leaky pipes, it’s not a lack of vision,” he said.

By July 1, Garcetti will need to have built an administration that reflects his values and brings in people he trusts, Sonenshein said.

Mayoral administrations typically include city commissioners, who will help to carry out specific aspects of city government, and his chief of staff, who will work directly at city hall.

Sonenshein added that Garcetti will likely concentrate on understanding the budget and how city services are going to be financed, and to connect with those who supported the opposing candidate.

Garcetti has said he plans to rehire all department heads at city hall once he takes office in order to ensure that they are all the best people for their jobs.

The new mayor will face one of his first major challenges in January when he will have to negotiate new contracts related to salary increases and pension with city employees, Sonenshein said.

“This is the big mystery for voters, who’s going to be the better negotiator,” he said.

Both candidates have worked with the university for years, partnering on issues related to transportation such as the future construction on the Westside Metro stop and the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, said Felicia Brannon, executive director of government and community relations at UCLA.

As the next mayor takes office, Brannon said she hopes to continue partnering with them on any issues connected with UCLA.

“I see the same happening as we (move) forward,” she said.

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