Rachel Reeves

Redondo Beach election: Measure A losing, runoff scheduled for May 14

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Votes being counted on Tuesday night at City Council Chambers. Photo by Rachel Reeves

Votes being counted on Tuesday night at City Council Chambers. Photo by Rachel Reeves

There are still 1,590 outstanding ballots – cast provisionally and by walk-in absentee voters – that the City of Redondo Beach will not be counting until Monday, but in the interim several results seem likely enough to call.

According to Tuesday’s semi-official numbers, Measure A lost the vote by a slim margin, with 51.6 percent of the counted votes opposing the initiative aimed at permanently retiring the AES power plant. Of the counted votes, 48.3 percent voted in favor of Measure A. At this point, A is losing by just 383 votes; votes in favor of Measure A numbered 5,478, and those opposed totaled 5,861.

Councilman Bill Brand, a co-author of Measure A, is not hopeful that Monday’s numbers will change the outcome of the initiative vote.

“I don’t think the provisional ballots are going to reverse the outcome – of Measure A being narrowly defeated… But the fact is this remains one of the worst places on the entire California coast for a new power plant,” Brand said. “The initiative is over with but that doesn’t stop a new council from passing a resolution opposing a new power plant.”

Absentee votes being counted Tuesday night. Photo by Rachel Reeves

Absentee votes being counted Tuesday night. Photo by Rachel Reeves

Because the City Charter dictates that winners must obtain more than 50 percent of the vote, there will be a runoff on May 14 – the same day of the election for city treasurer.

Steve Aspel is leading in the mayoral runoff with 39.7 percent of the vote and 4,334 votes, and Monday’s count will determine who faces him in May. It’s likely to be either Matt Kilroy, who had 28.3 percent of the vote and 3,097 votes, or Pat Aust, who finished with 21.7 percent of the vote and 2,372 votes. Eric Coleman had 1,110 votes and 10.1 percent of the total.

Hopes were high at HT Grill Tuesday night. Pictured are Tony Czuleger, mayoral candidate Steve Aspel (who got 39.7 percent of the vote), and residents Lisa Rodriguez and Mary Ganis – all of whom have been publicly opposed to Measure A, which is at this point losing by a slim margin. Photo courtesy of Mary Ganis

Hopes were high at HT Grill Tuesday night. Pictured are Tony Czuleger, mayoral candidate Steve Aspel (who got 39.7 percent of the vote), and residents Lisa Rodriguez and Mary Ganis – all of whom have been publicly opposed to Measure A, which is at this point losing by a slim margin. Photo courtesy of Mary Ganis

For Aspel and one other candidate, this means two more months of campaigning.

“I’m ecstatic that I got such an overwhelming majority of votes but then again I’m a little burnt out and I have to go through the whole thing all over again,” Aspel said.

“I’ll take a week off and then I’m going to go back and hit the pavement again… Everybody expected a runoff, even I expected a runoff, but you know, you still hold out hope you’re going to just win outright. I’m not disappointed but I’m just going, ‘Wow, I need a breather.’

“It’s wonderful when so many people want to vote for you – that’s an incredible feeling. It’s kind of humbling when you think about it.”

In District 1, Jeff Ginsburg finished strongest, though 360 votes remain to be counted. Ginsburg had 1,096 votes, or 41.3 percent of the total, followed by Jim Light with 756 votes, or 28.5 percent of the total. Kimberly Fine had 652 votes, or 24.6 percent of Tuesday’s vote, and Dianne Prado trailed with 145 votes, or 5.4 percent of the sum.

Michael Jackson supporters check election results at Catalina Coffee. Photo courtesy of Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson supporters check election results at Catalina Coffee. Photo courtesy of Michael Jackson

Bill Brand will easily take District 2. As of Tuesday night, he was well ahead of his opponents with 55.9 percent of the vote and 1,456 votes. Michael Jackson had 896 votes, comprising 34.4 percent of the total, and Susan Kowalski had 9.6 percent of the total with 251 votes. In order to challenge Brand on May 14, Jackson will need all of the 430 votes from District 2 being counted Monday.

Brand called Tuesday’s preliminary results “bittersweet” because even though he is likely to win re-election, he was disappointed in the likely defeat of Measure A.

“The Measure A campaign is over and that’s the way it goes,” Brand said. “[But] the opposition to the power plant isn’t going away.”

In a written statement, Brand said: “The very narrow defeat of Measure A should not be construed by anyone as public approval for a new power plant. There were many other factors at play with Measure A, not the least of which was the $400,000+ AES spent campaigning against it. A public up or down vote would be a landslide against the AES application. We need to get that message to our state elected officials and enlist their help opposing the AES plan for a new power plant on our waterfront.”

AES regional vice president Eric Pendergraft said yesterday that while the numbers are preliminary, his team is “extremely optimistic given the results show we have the strong support of the majority in the city.”

“Obviously we were looking out for our own best interests but we also really were looking out for the best interests of the Redondo Beach community as a whole,” he said.

He defended AES’ campaign as “honest, based on fact, and really looking out for the community as a whole and not just a few people who live by the power plant,” and said AES looks forward to helping to bridge the divide Measure A has wedged into Redondo Beach.

District 4 leading candidate Stephen Sammarco checks election results on the web with wife Ofelia and their two young children. Photo courtesy of Stephen Sammarco

District 4 leading candidate Stephen Sammarco checks election results on the web with wife Ofelia and their two young children. Photo courtesy of Stephen Sammarco

Stephen Sammarco will be in the District 4 race runoff, as he pulled 662 votes for 40.8 percent of the total. Jan Jeffreys had 31.7 percent with 515 votes and Julian Stern had 27.3 percent with 443 votes. As 260 votes remain, it is unclear whether Jeffreys or Stern will challenge Sammarco.

District 4 candidate Julian Stern watches the results roll in at Snax on Artesia. Photo by Rachel Reeves

District 4 candidate Julian Stern watches the results roll in at Snax on Artesia. Photo by Rachel Reeves

Sammarco said yesterday he felt “overwhelmed” by Tuesday’s results.

“Obviously public safety is an issue for people. I feel that was the message I [communicated] and it was received,” he said.

“I’m overwhelmed with the support and just excited. Just really excited.”

Other results are contingent upon provisional and walked-in absentee vote numbers. From District 1, 360 remain to be counted; District 2, 430; District 3, 260; District 4, 260; and District 5, 280.

City Attorney Mike Webb, and three School Board candidates – Bradley Waller, Brad Serkin, and Michael Christensen – were running unopposed.

City Clerk Eleanor Manzano said overall voter turnout was 26 percent (of an estimated 44,000 registered voters), which is higher than usual. (Turnout in the 2011 all-mail ballot election was 19 percent.)

Manzano will be in City Council Chambers at 2 p.m. Monday to announce the final election results.

Absentee ballots being counted at City Council Chambers Tuesday night. Photo by Rachel Reeves

Absentee ballots being counted at City Council Chambers Tuesday night. Photo by Rachel Reeves

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