The Long Beach City Council’s First District seat has been empty for five months, and it appears Long Beach Transit Director Mary Zendejas will be the next person to fill it.
After the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder’s office reported the results from all precincts for the Tuesday, Nov. 5, special election, it appeared Zendejas would claim the seat with 31% of the vote. She totaled 608 votes Wednesday morning, but that does not count provisional and late mail-in ballots.
The results are not yet official. The county has until Nov. 19 to finalize the winner.
Zendejas said Tuesday night that she was “overwhelmed” with the amount of support she had received throughout the campaign.
“That’s what we’ve been focusing on, is inclusivity and keeping positive,” she said, “and I think that’s what the Long Beach residents of the First District want to see.”
The person who wins the most votes in the special election — even if he or she does not win an outright majority — will claim the seat. That person will be sworn into office Friday, Dec. 6.
With all precincts reporting and received mail-in ballots counted, the total number of votes counted was 1,944.
Small business owner Mariela Salgado followed Zendejas with 25% of the vote, and church pastor Misi Tagaloa took third place in the early returns with 19% of the vote.
Other candidates that appeared on the ballot were:
Travel Coordinator Shelbyrae Black;
Downtown Residential Council board member Joe Ganem;
Environmental activist Elliot Gonzales;
Educator and farmer Shirley Huling; and
Small business owner Ray Morquecho.
Hashim Muhammad also ran a write-in campaign.
Zendejas has largely been seen as the front-runner in the race, thanks to endorsements from the First District seat’s most recent occupants, state Sen. Lena Gonzalez, D-Long Beach, and Mayor Robert Garcia.
Campaign finance reports also showed that Zendejas significantly out-raised her rivals.
The District 1 seat has been empty since June, when Gonzalez won her state Senate campaign and left to take her new post.