The Highlights From Yesterday's Election
Last night, Los Angeles went to the polls. Well, some of us. As a result, there is literally a new sheriff in town, the powerful Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has a new member and petty theft and drug charges won't require long sentences in California. We highlighted some of the more interesting results, but you can check out all the races at the Secretary of State's page or the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder's page.
- The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department finally has a new sheriff since Sheriff Lee Baca resigned back in January after the department came under fire for abusing inmates and basically being hopelessly corrupt. Long Beach Police Chief Jim McConnell has a pretty strong mandate to clean up the department winning 74.8% of the vote. Mayor Eric Garcetti and other city and county leaders showed up to his victory party, perhaps the surest victory party in the county: former undersheriff and current Gardena mayor Paul Tanaka basically didn't run a campaign at all and he is the subject of a federal prob. Back in February, McConnell told LAist that he thought he could bring a "fresh set of eyes" to the department: "When you look at changing the culture, the goal is reestablishing public trust and renewing the pride within the department."
- Former state Senator Sheila Kuehl beat out former Santa Monica Mayor Bobby Shriver to replace the termed-out Zev Yaroslavsky for his seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Kuehl won 52.78% of the vote and will now be governing a wide swath of the county that includes much of the Westside and the Valley.
- The Westside was one of the more interesting places to vote last night. Malibu approve Measure R, which is aimed at preserving the coastal community's "small-town" character. The measure lowers the cap on chain stores from 45 percent to 30 percent. It will only apply to new shopping centers. It also requires voter approval for commercial and mixed-use development projects larger than 20,000 feet. The project was backed by Dick Van Dyke and Rob Reiner.
- No big excitement for the top state jobs. Democrats, many of them incumbents, swept the top positions: Governor Jerry Brown (58.7%), Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom (55.9%), Attorney General Kamala Harris (56.3%) and Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones (56.3%) kept their spots. Controller John Chiang is now the treasurer (57.7%). Some of the races were a little tighter. Betty Yee, a Board of Equalization member, beat out Fresno mayor Ashley Swearengin with 52.7% of the vote for Controller. Los Angeles state senator Alex Padilla won the Secretary of State position with 52.5% of the vote. The superintendent of public instruction got pretty heated, but it looks like incumbent Tom Torlakson narrowly edged out reform candidate Marshall Tuck with 52% of the vote.
- Not only do Californians like Jerry Brown, they also like two propositions that he campaigned for (since he didn't really need to campaign for himself). Californians passed Proposition 1, which is a $7.5 billion bond to improve the state's water infrastructure, and Proposition 2, which will create a "rainy day fund" for California. They passed with 67 and 69 percent of the vote, respectively. (Does "rainy day" seems like an odd metaphor in California politics at this point to anyone else?)
- About 59% voters went for Proposition 47, which downgraded small potatoes drug and theft crimes worth less than $950 from potential felonies to misdemeanors. It also shortens the time these offenders spend behind bars. It looks like we're slowly waking up from our Drug War hangover. California voters didn't like Proposition 45 and 60% voted no on giving the state power to reject insurance rate increases. Nor did they go for Proposition 46, which would have raised the limit on malpractice suits awards for pain and suffering. That cap has been $250,000 since it was implemented in the 1970s, and but 67% of voters opted not to raise it to $1.1 million to account for inflation.
- It looks like Los Angeles County Measure P failed to get the two-thirds majority it needed to pass. About 62% of voters went for the $23 parcel tax meant to fund parks and open space development. But the way the measure was crafted was controversial, and even the Sierra Club said they weren't a fan.
- Sandra Fluke, a woman who rose to fame when Rush Limbaugh called her a slut for using birth control, lost her bid for a seat on the state senate. She lost out to Democrat Ben Allen, a Santa Monica-Malibu school board member, who beat her out with 60.8% of the vote.
- There's an interesting demographic shift behind the Orange Curtain: Gustavo Arrellano writes "the Dems can't even classify the Republican Party of Orange County as one of fogey gabachos anymore." The OC Weekly shares a long list of non-incumbent, Asian and Latino Republicans who won their races on city councils, county board, water board, school board and in the state assembly.
- Speaking of race in Orange County, a teen poll worker was tweeting a bunch of terrible racist things that have since been deleted, like “Every voter that came is Vietnamese with the last name Nguyen or lee &; they don’t speak English,” followed by four emoticons of guns.