Still on the edge of your seat waiting for more election results? Get comfy. 

The next wave of reported votes for LA County races including local Santa Monica items is not expected until midday Friday, leaving plenty of candidates and their supporters biting their nails as most local races remained too close to call.

According to the Los Angeles County Registrar’s office, 1,318,093 ballots have been counted so far. However, about 1 million have yet to be counted meaning 43 percent of the total is still outstanding. 

“There was (and typically is) a surge of Vote by Mail ballots returned on Election Day — through the mail, at drop boxes, and at Vote Centers. Much of the work today is organizing the volumes of ballots received and establishing estimates responsive to queries,” said the Registrar’s office on Wednesday. 

City council

So far, ballots counted in the Santa Monica City Council race have Caroline Torosis in a sustained lead as early vote by mail and Vote Center ballots were reported on Tuesday night, but no council seats appeared sewn up by latest reporting.

As of the last update, published online in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, Torosis had taken the top spot in the crowded field of city council candidates, collecting 8,327 votes. Behind her was Jesse Zwick with 7,321 votes, followed by incumbent Lana Negrete at 5,494 votes. But only about 550 votes separated Negrete, Ellis Raskin (5,002), Armen Melkonians (4,994) and Natalya Zernitskaya (4,943).

None of the six remaining council candidates had yet cracked 2,000 votes. In order, they were Whitney Bain, Albin Gielicz, Troy Harris, Samantha Mota, Jonathan Mann and Arthur Jeon.

With the top three vote-getters earning a council seat and the potential for thousands of more ballots coming in, the race was still anyone’s to win.

Schools

The same was true for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) Board of Education race, where incumbents and establishment candidates had taken a steady but not ironclad lead after the first round of results surfaced. 

That race saw incumbent Laurie Lieberman as the top vote-getter as of latest reporting, with 9,902 votes recorded; fellow incumbent Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein was in third with 9,186 votes so far. Between them was newcomer Stacy Rouse, taking second place in the early results at 9,296. Rouse represents the only potential board member from Malibu; her candidacy was endorsed early on by outgoing Malibu representative Craig Foster. In fourth was Alicia Mignano, at 8,923 votes. Mignano was endorsed by four current school board members and three current city council members. 

Behind Mignano were Esther Hickman (5,971), Angela DiGaetano (5,857), Miles Warner (5,587) and Keith Coleman (who dropped out of the race weeks before Election Day but still earned 2,500 votes and counting).

The top four vote-getters earn a seat on the SMMUSD School Board.

In the race for Santa Monica Community College Board, early results showed incumbents Sion Roy (11,699) and Nancy Greenstein (11,561) in the lead, with newcomer Tom Peters (11,214) in third and another incumbent, Barry Snell (10,854), not far behind. In fifth place was Patrick Acosta II (4,295). The top four vote-getters earn seats on the College Board this election.

As for the $375 million Santa Monica College Measure SMC bond, “yes” votes were just shy of the 55% threshold needed for the bond to pass — with 11,300 votes reported in favor and 9,407 reported in opposition, the “yes” camp was 0.43% shy of that extra-high threshold as of latest reporting. School bonds require at least 55% voter approval to pass in midterm election years.

Tax measures

A narrow frontrunner has already emerged between the dueling property transfer tax measures on the November ballot in Santa Monica. The two measures are completely separate. It is possible for both measures to fail if neither receives a majority of “yes” votes; however, if both are approved with 50% of votes plus one in the “yes” category, the higher vote-getter of the two will win out. That seemed more likely for Measure GS than for Measure DT as early reporting came in.

Measure GS — proposing a third tier transfer tax rate of $56 per $1,000 of value for property transfers of $8,000,000 or more — had taken just over 51% of early votes reported. The other property transfer tax proposal, Measure DT — proposing an additional incremental tax of $25 per $1,000 of the value in excess of $8 million — had received just 34% of votes counted by Tuesday night.

Measure CS, an increase to transient occupancy tax, had taken a healthy lead with 72% of early votes cast in favor.

The final tax measure on the ballot, Measure HMP, imposing a business tax on cannabis businesses, was out ahead with about two-thirds of votes cast in favor of the proposal.

Rent control

Early results showed the majority of voters supported strengthened rent control measures in Santa Monica, with Measure RC earning almost 57% of votes in the first wave of reporting. The measure, if it were to pass, would cap annual rent control increases at 3%.

Measure EM, which would allow the Rent Control Board to modify or block rent increases on rent controlled units during declared states of emergency, was also up in early results, with 57% of votes cast in favor.

On the Rent Control Board, three candidates were running for three open seats, meaning Ericka Lesley, Daniel S. Ivanov and Kurt Gonska were already guaranteed spots on the citywide board.

Measure PB

About 59% of Santa Monica voters were in favor of an expansion of eligibility for Personnel Board membership to include not only city residents but county residents that are employed full time within the city, own real property in the city or have been issued business licenses in the city. The measure also cuts down Personnel Board terms of service from five to four years.

Other notable races

Third District Supervisor: Bob Hertzberg (51%) and Lindsey Horvath (49%) were neck and neck

Mayor of Los Angeles: Rick Caruso (51%) and Karen Bass (49%) were neck and neck

LA County Sheriff: Robert Luna (57%) was out ahead of incumbent Alex Villanueva (43%)

Measure A (granting Supervisors the ability to remove a Sheriff): “Yes” votes were far out ahead (68%)

LA City Council District 11: Traci Park (55%) held a sustained but not immutable lead over Erin Darling (44%)

State Senator – District 24: Incumbent Ben Allen (62%) claimed victory over challenger Kristina Irwin (38%)

State Assembly – District 51: Rick Chavez Zbur (55%) was ahead of Louis Abramson (45%)

U.S. Representative – District 36: Incumbent Ted Lieu (65%) claimed victory over challenger Joe E. Collins III (35%)

The latest available results, comprising all Vote Center in-person votes and all vote by mail ballots received prior to Election Day, were dated 3:35 a.m. Wednesday morning, Nov. 9. The county has 985,000 mail ballots, 21,000 conditional voter registration ballots and 300 provisional ballots outstanding. Those figures are countywide but if Santa Monica ballots are proportional to the total, every local race could change before the final results are known. 

The next data release time was set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 11.

emily@smdp.com

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