Kevin de León at second annual Boyle Heights Christmas Parade on Sunday, Dec. 9. 2018. Photo by Antonio Mejías-Rentas

Former state legislator Kevin de León remains the apparent winner in Tuesday’s Los Angeles City Council District 14 elections, edging out his four opponents with nearly 54% of the vote and avoiding a June runoff, latest results show.

With nearly 60% of voting centers ballots counted, and 40% of vote by mail ballots tallied as of Wednesday evening, De León had 15,373 votes. De León, who is looking to return to government after losing a race for U.S. Senator in 2018, had more than triple the votes of his nearest contender, former marketing executive Cyndi Otteson, with 5,098 votes or 18%.

Boyle Heights native and resident Raquel Zamora, a school counselor and businesswoman, came in third with 3,944 or 14% of the vote. Los Angeles Unified School District board member Mónica García came fourth with 3,187 votes or 11% and nonprofit founder and activist John Jiménez trailed with 1,006 votes or nearly 4%.

De León, who raised almost three times as many campaign donations as all his opponents combined, ran an aggressive campaign with door-to-door canvassing in the district and almost daily mailers in the weeks prior to March 3. The former state senator was criticized for using a city council run as a possible springboard for a mayoral election, being the only of the five candidates who did not sign a pledge to complete his four-year term on CD 14.

For the first time, Los Angeles’ municipal elections were held on the same day as the California primary elections. The latest results in the Democratic Party showed Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders leading with nearly 38% percent and his closest contender, former Vice President Joe Biden, with almost 27%. As of Wednesday evening, California had not been called and Democratic delegates not assigned to candidates.

In the Republican Party primary, President Trump had close to 88% of the vote. The latest results show a decrease of almost 10 points from what was originally reported, showing a slight increase for some of his opponents.  

The March 3 election was also the first outing for a new $300 million dollar voting system created under a state mandate to expand the number of days and hours that polling places are open. Voters throughout Los Angeles County were able to vote at any of a number of new voting places that opened as early as February 22, but many voters who waited to vote on Tuesday faced long lines and hours-long waits. Multiple locations reported malfunctioning machines; at least one location in Boyle Heights did not open as scheduled on Sunday.

In other local results, the race for District Attorney remained too close to call, with incumbent Jackie Lacey still hovering over 50% with 532,583 votes tallied. In the highly contested county race, Lacey could end up in a runoff with one of two other candidates. Former San Francisco DA George Gascón had 289, 082 votes (27%) with federal prosecutor Rachel A. Rossi not far behind with 240,534 (23%).

A day before the election, Lacey apologized to voters for an incident that went viral on social media, in which her husband appeared to pull a gun on an activist from Black Lives Matter who was part of a group protesting in front of the couple’s home in Granada Hills. Lacey said she and her husband had been harassed and threatened during the election; activists, including a Boyle Heights group, have criticized the DA for not prosecuting police officers in a number of cases involving fatal shootings.

Two other incumbents whose districts include Boyle Heights were up for reelection Tuesday. In the U.S. House of Representatives 34th District, congressman Jimmy Gómez is inching towards passing the simple majority threshold to avoid a November runoff. As of Wednesday evening he had 33,225 votes or 50.93% of the total. His closest contender, David Kim, had 14,581 votes, or 22%.

At the State Assembly District 53, incumbent Miguel Santiago had a seemingly unsurmountable lead with 21,725 votes or 65%.

Should De León prevail he would win the City Council seat in a scenario similar to the last district election in 2015, when councilmember José Huízar won with a commanding 66% of the vote and avoided a runoff with former county supervisor (and councilwoman) Gloria Molina, who only received 24% of the vote in a four-candidate race.

Tuesday’s election handed a surprising defeat to García, a veteran politician and sometimes polarizing figure who some had expected to be in a runoff with De León.

It’s been widely reported that De León is likely to aspire to succeed Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti when his term runs out in 2022. Fundraising for the mayoral election begins on Sunday, and a number of high-profile politicians are expected to file candidacies.

De León is expected to take office in July, representing a district that includes a big part of downtown Los Angeles, El Sereno, Eagle Rock and other Northeast communities. He would be the fifth consecutive Latino man to represent the district; there has never been a woman holding office in CD 14.

This story was updated on March 5 at 7:30 am and will continue to be updated as new results are reported.

Noemí Pedraza is a 2020 graduate of Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School. She enjoys playing the saxophone and volunteering. She hopes to double major in Biology and Journalism in college.

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