A big yawn greeted the beige Wendy Greuel and the equally bland Eric Garcetti on election day. Whoever wins the mayoral runoff in June will have bleak prospects to turn Los Angeles around: mounting deficits, unfunded pension costs, widening voter disaffection, and a toxic political culture that has mostly defied reform.
Out on the "great flat" of the Los Angeles Basin, winners and losers in dozens of city elections were tentatively adding up what their voters intended.
Among the races (some still undecided Friday morning):
Bell: This troubled community is still waiting -- after more than a week -- for a verdict in the big council corruption trial. Hoping for something better than their recent past, Bell voters kept incumbent Ana Maria Quintana in office. Quintana ran as a reformer after almost the entire city council was arrested in 2010. But Danny Harber, another reformist incumbent, trailed challenger Alicia Romero by just four votes on Friday morning.
Carson: Carson has a directly elected mayor whose outsized sway over the city council rattled enough of his political enemies to put Measure M on the ballot. It would have bounced him from office and made the position of mayor mostly ceremonial. Measure M failed by a landslide, helping to boost Mayor Jim Dear's campaign to a comfortable win over challenger Lula Davis-Holmes, currently a city council member. Dear also seems to have regained the support of a majority of council members with the election of Albert Robles, who defeated incumbent Council Member Julie Ruiz-Raber. "Little Al" Robles (not to be confused with "Big Al" Robles, convicted of federal corruption charges in 2004) is an attorney who has defended sketchy politicians in several corruption cases.
Cudahy: In little Cudahy, where a marijuana dispensary bribery sting brought down three council members, new council members Chris Garcia, Jack Guerrero, and Baru Sanchez hope to become the reform majority.
Gardena: Like Carson, Gardena has a directly-elected mayor whose controversies extend beyond the city limits. Mayor Paul Tanaka, soon to retire as Undersheriff of Los Angeles County, retained his office by a wide majority even as he announced his decision to leave the sheriff's department. He departs under a cloud of suspicion about his management of the county jail system.
Huntington Park: In Huntington Park, where residents sought unsuccessfully to recall the entire city council last year, incumbents Elba Guerrero and Andy Molina lost to challengers Valentin Amezquita and Karina Macias. Guerrero and Molina are politically connected to Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez, still languishing in jail. Noguez is a former Huntington Park council member.
West Hollywood: Voters sent mixed messages in West Hollywood, easily passing Measure C, which sets term limits for council members but re-electing longtime incumbents Jeffrey Prang and John Jude Duran to the city council.