John Lee Claims Victory In Special Election For LA City Council Seat

John Lee (L) and Loraine Lundquist faced off in the Aug. 13, 2019 runoff election for Los Angeles City Council District 12, the former seat of Councilman Mitch Englander. (Courtesy of the candidates)

John Lee appears to have won the special election to represent District 12 on the Los Angeles City Council.

With 100% of precincts reporting but before the ballots had all been counted, the L.A. City Council welcomed Lee to council chambers Wednesday as councilman-elect and congratulated him on his victory.

"I'm ready to come here and start the work," Lee said before Council President Herb Wesson requested a couple rounds of applause.

At last count, Lee, a Republican, was ahead of his Democratic opponent, Loraine Lundquist, by more than 1,300 votes.

Lundquist initially wasn't as quick to throw in the towel, in part because of how the June 4 primary went down, according to Jesse Switzer, political consultant for her campaign. Lee initially led by 50 votes the following morning, but after the final certified tally, Lundquist topped him by nearly 440 votes.

The margin is wider this time, but Lundquist said earlier in the day that she "wants to see every vote counted," Switzer told LAist.

But by Wednesday evening, it looked like she was conceding. In an email thanking her supporters, Lundquist said the "results were not as we had hoped."

"I know this work will not be in vain, and together we will rise from this setback and become stronger than ever. This movement has never been about me — it is about us and our future," she wrote.

Lee and Lundquist ran to finish out the term for Councilman Mitch Englander, who stepped down last year to take a job with a sports entertainment company. The primary election for a full-term leading District 12 will be held in March, along with several other council seats.

Englander had been the lone Republican on the city council, representing several northwest Valley communities, including Chatsworth, Granada Hills, Northridge, Porter Ranch and West Hills. Lee served as his chief of staff.

With Lee taking over, the Valley district, which has been represented by Republicans for decades, will continue to lean red from the top, while the constituency leans blue. The district has 74,850 registered Democrats compared to 40,232 registered Republicans, according to the county registrar's office.

Lee pitched voters on his track record as a longtime community leader and public servant who's worked to "increase police patrols, expand park space, improve traffic safety... and delivered millions of dollars to the district."

Lundquist, an astrophysicist and teacher, ran on a platform that emphasized environmental sustainability, which she teaches at Cal State Northridge.

"As a scientist, I want to bring an evidence-based approach to governing and end the pay-for-play politics that have dominated City Hall," she told LAist last week.

UPDATES:

6:25 p.m.: This article was updated with a concession email from Lundquist's campaign.

12:10 p.m.: This article was updated with information from Lundquist's campaign consultant.

10:55 a.m.: This article was updated to include Lee's visit to the Los Angeles City Council.

This article was originally published at 7:10 a.m.