Cities Get a Mix of Messages from Local Voters

Political Landscape
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With the national media focusing on soda taxes and the regional media dissecting Measure J's almost win, other local elections went mostly unnoticed. Here's a roundup of some of the election outcomes reshaping the political landscape in Southern California:

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The soap opera that is San Fernando was cancelled by voters who tuned out three council members in a landslide recall. Included in the sweep was the city council couple caught in a cheating affair.

Mayor Miguel Pulido of Santa Ana won another term, his tenth; but local activists elected two council members who intend to stir up what they see is the city's stagnant political life.

After a bitterly partisan election battle, Democrat Bob Filner beat Republican Carl DeMaio to lead the city of San Diego. In the past 40 years, San Diego has had only two Democratic mayors. In another 40-year first, a Democratic candidate appears to have won a seat on the all-Republican county board of supervisors.

Westminster in northern Orange County -- a city with the nation's largest Vietnamese community -- made Councilman Tri Ta its first Vietnamese American mayor and the first elected Vietnamese American mayor in the nation.

In Irvine, the progressive city council majority fell to conservative challengers for the first time in 15 years.

The Anaheim city council, which faced criticism from residents who feel the city is too cozy with business interests, retained its business-friendly majority.

Voters in Brea -- presumably in reaction to pension and compensation scandals elsewhere -- capped the salaries of the city manager and other senior managers. But a candidate aligned with supporters of the salary cap lost his city council bid.

The campaign to make Costa Mesa a charter city -- widely understood to be a slap at unionized city employees -- failed to convince a majority of voters.

A union-backed "living wage" measure passed easily in Long Beach, making Long Beach the third city in the state to require a higher minimum wage for non-union hotel employees.

Statewide, tax measures (other than on sweet drinks) were mostly successful in raising revenues for schools. According to preliminary totals analyzed by Michael Coleman of CalifornaiCityFinance.com, 85 of 106 school bond measures passed, as were 15 of 25 parcel tax increases. Less successful were city tax increases that required a supermajority of two-thirds approval. Voters adopted only 5 of 15.

D. J. Waldie, author and historian, writes about Los Angeles twice each week at KCET's SoCal Focus blog.

About the Author

D. J. Waldie is the author of "Holy Land: A Suburban Memoir" and "Where We Are Now: Notes from Los Angeles." He is a contributing editor for the Los Angeles Times.
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