DOWNTOWN — With nearly 6,000 ballots left to count, one local race remained too close to call on Wednesday, as Bob Holbrook and Ted Winterer were neck and neck for the final available four-year City Council term.

The latest totals showed Holbrook was in third place in the race for three seats with 10,184 votes, just 146 more than Winterer’s 10,038.

The Los Angeles County Clerk’s Office on Wednesday reported there were 5,954 unprocessed provisional and vote-by-mail ballots. Officials said they would release updated vote totals as early as Friday evening, though the certified election results could come as late as Nov. 30.

Both Holbrook and Winterer on Wednesday emphasized the election’s outcome was yet to be determined.

“I’d rather be ahead than behind at this time, but [Winterer] is a very good guy and a very well-respected candidate, and this is a tough one for both of us at this point,” Holbrook said.

Winterer, who was leading Holbrook in early returns, was the runner-up in the 2008 council contest. On Wednesday he said he was holding out hope he could prevail.

“There are still lots of provisional and vote-by-mail ballots to be counted, and in addition we’re trying to get a count of the number of rejected absentee and other ballots and we are weighing our options,” he said.

The top two finishers in the contest for full council terms were incumbents Kevin McKeown, with 13,037 votes, and Pam O’Connor, with 11,534.

O’Connor won her fifth term on the council despite again being the target of negative ads from the slow-growth group the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City.

“I guess the citizens of Santa Monica realize I’m doing a good job and they want me to stay,” she said.

She dismissed attack ads that portrayed her as being in the pocket of big developers as baseless.

“They used lies and innuendo, and the voters in Santa Monica haven’t been fooled by that,” she said of her critics.

McKeown won his fourth term.

“I ran a simple and positive campaign on my record of responsiveness to residents, and I deeply appreciate the broad support that again let me come in as top vote-getter,” he said. “It is possible to earn victories in Santa Monica the old-fashioned way.”

Besides Winterer, no other challenger came close to winning a seat on the council. The next-best performance in the four-year contest came from Jean McNeil Wyner, who received 3,162 votes.

In the race for a pair of two-year terms, appointed council members Terry O’Day and Gleam Davis easily defended their seats. The third place finisher in that race, Robert Kronovet, trailed by nearly 5,000 votes as of Wednesday.

“We got defeated soundly. We were very surprised,” Kronovet said. “It’s strange, we really don’t know where our voters went.”

nickt@www.smdp.com

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