Voters returned two incumbents to the Santa Monica City Council Tuesday, but it was a Planning Commissioner, who after suffering a narrow defeat in 2010, returned to topple both as the top vote-getter.
The commissioner, Ted Winterer, glided to victory with 15.1 percent of the votes. He won the most votes, but the incumbents, Terry O'Day and Gleam Davis, did not fall in their fight to retain two of four open seats. They garnered 14.5 and 12.9 percent of the votes, respectively, according to results from all 54 precincts posted at 4:48 a.m. Wednesday.
Clinching the fourth and final open seat on the seven-member dais was former councilman Tony Vazquez. He squeezed in with 10.2 percent of the votes.
The winners comprise the slate endorsed by the community's most influential political group, Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights. Independently, the candidates financed their campaigns with personal loans and political contributions ranging between $13,466 and $49,919. SMRR spent $98,722 advocating for the four candidates' elections.
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An Ocean Park resident, Winterer was favored by many community leaders. In an election year focused heavily on development, many Winterer supporters touted him a a slow-growth candidate. They feared a roadblock to victory when a new Political Action Committee funded by a prominent housing developer began supporting him along with three other candidates they considered to be "pro-development."
Vazquez previously served on the council from 1990 to 1994. He currently runs an independent advocacy and consulting firm, according to his website.
In their first shots at a City Council race, Shari Davis, Richard McKinnon, John C. Smith and Frank Gruber burst onto the scene with decent showings:CANDIDATE VOTES % TED WINTERER 13,586 15.12 TERRY ODAY 13,057 14.53 GLEAM OLIVIA DAVIS 11,605 12.91 TONY VAZQUEZ 9,129 10.16 SHARI DAVIS 8,091 9 RICHARD MCKINNON 5,984 6.66 JOHN CYRUS SMITH 4,818 5.36 FRANK GRUBER 4,619 5.14 JONATHAN MANN 3,783 4.21 BOB SELDON 3,184 3.54 ARMEN MELKONIANS 2,886 3.21 TERENCE LATER 2,829 3.15 JERRY P RUBIN 2,313 2.57 ROBERTO GOMEZ 2,147 2.39 STEVE DURON 1,829 2.04
On Tuesday night, dense fog delayed vote counts in Santa Monica, leaving residents without any new results for most of the night. The weather grounded helicopters carrying ballots to county election headquarters in Norwalk, forcing officials to use slower-moving ground vehicles instead.
Some 19,000 absentee ballots were counted and reported shortly after the polls closed at 8 p.m., but the Santa Monica precincts didn't start reporting until after 2 a.m.
"Appreciate the patience & recognition of fog impacts, geographic distance and volume in L.A. County as we ensure secure ballot processing," Tweeted the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk.
Spokeswoman Elizabeth Kanox said results from Santa Monica and Torrance were particularly slow.
By midnight, only a couple handfuls of people people remained at an election night party hosted by Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights. Close to 200 had gathered earlier in the evening to watch President Barack Obama's reelection speech, organizers said.
"We've waited this long before," Nancy Greenstein, co-chair emeritus of SMRR, said of election results. "They start coming in around 11ish. By 1 a.m. you'll start getting a substantial amount of results."
Her prediction was off by about an hour.
Each of the winning candidates were endorsed by SMRR.
"So far, with the numbers we have, it looks like a tremendous win," said current City Councilman Kevin McKeown about 11:45 p.m. (McKeown was not up for reelection).