Los Angeles mayor appears headed for re-election victory

© Reuters. Construction cranes are seen in downtown Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti appeared a short distance Tuesday to win re-election as leader of America’s second-largest city against 10 lesser-known rivals, most of them without financial backing. significant.

Garcetti, 46, a former city councilman and urban planning expert seeking his second term as mayor, needs to win at least 50 percent of the vote plus one to avoid a May runoff with the runner-up.

A recent Loyola Marymount University poll found that Garcetti was endorsed by 50.1 percent of registered voters, compared with 7.9 percent for his closest rival, Mitchell Schwartz, a political agent of former President Barack Obama. during his first campaign in the White House.

But the telephone and online survey of 950 people, conducted in January and early February, showed that 38.5 percent were still undecided. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus just over three percentage points.

Schwartz, 55, has taken advantage of the city’s rising crime rate and high housing costs, while warning of an impending pension fund crisis, in his bid to topple Garcetti. The mayor has touted his successful support for a measure to raise the minimum wage in Los Angeles and pointed to the city’s job gains after a nationwide recession.

Garcetti enjoys a significant financial advantage, reporting that his campaign has amassed more than $ 3.8 million as of March 1, while Schwartz, the only other candidate to have raised a substantial amount of cash, is expected to have spent $ 790,000, he said. a spokesman.

Previously, Schwartz was best known as the California state director of Obama’s presidential campaign in 2007 and 2008. Prior to that, he served as director of communications at the State Department during President Bill Clinton’s first term.

Garcetti, who defeated then-city controller Wendy Greuel in a runoff four years ago, is the son of former prosecutor Gil Garcetti, whose office tried OJ Simpson for murder and lost while serving as a Los Angeles County district attorney. .

Drawing almost as much attention, and much more money, in Tuesday’s municipal elections was the highly controversial Measure S, which aims to limit development by stopping “spot zoning” amendments to the city’s General Plan for two years.

Supporters of Measure S say that spot zoning permits awarded to wealthy real estate interests have spurred uncontrolled construction of high-rise office spaces and other expensive developments that increase congestion and drive up housing costs. Opponents say the measure would go too far and undermine the city’s efforts to create more affordable housing.

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