Voters waiting

Voters wait patiently Tuesday night to cast ballots at the Bay Shore Church community center.

Semi-final election results Wednesday left at least two local races too close to call — the Measure A sales tax extension and the candidates going into a runoff in the Eighth City Council District to face incumbent Al Austin.

Runoffs will be required in the other two contested City Council races as well as the District 2 Long Beach Unified School District Board race. Measure B, the one percent increase in Transient Occupancy Tax (bed tax) was approved easily, and Doug Otto appears to have enough of a majority to take the District 4 school board seat outright.

Late mail-in ballots and provisional ballots still have to be certified and counted. It may be next week before final results are released, and certification won’t take place until April.

Los Angeles County deployed a brand new voting system in 2020, and results were slow coming in Tuesday night, but it wasn’t clear whether that was the fault of the process or the robust turnout of voters.

In Belmont Shore, the voting line at 7 p.m. at the Bay Shore Church Community Center stretched a block down The Toledo and around the corner onto Corona Avenue.

“No problems, just a lot of people wanting to vote,” said one poll watcher who declined to give his name.

When mail-in and early ballots were reported after 8:30 p.m., it looked like a split decision for Mayor Robert Garcia in terms of tax measures.

Measure A, which would extend the city’s additional one percent sales tax indefinitely, was behind, with about 1,000 more No votes then Yes votes. The first tally was 14,682 No votes and 13,600 yes votes.

But by Wednesday morning, when semifinal results were announced, the race had tightened considerably. At 10 a.m., there were only 44 more no votes than yes votes, with more than 51,000 votes counted.

Measure B, a one percent increase of the Transient Occupancy Tax, or hotel bed tax, was passing early with a 1,500-vote margin. By 10 a.m., the lead had grown to more than 7,000 votes.

All three City Council races — Districts Two, Six and Eight — were tightly contested with multiple candidates in each race.

In the open Second District race, Cindy Allen and Robert Fox were in a near dead-heat from the beginning. At 10 a.m., Allen had a 52-vote lead. It appears Allen and Fox will meeting in a runoff, since Jeannette Barrera, running third, was more than 400 votes behind.

In the Sixth District, three-term incumbent Dee Andrews easily made it into the runoff. But challenger Suely Saro, who is attempting to become the first Cambodian City Councilman in Long Beach, was far in front, more than 400 votes ahead of Andrews and 950 more than Ana Arce in third place.

Another incumbent, Al Austin in the Eighth District, had a slight lead Wednesday morning. But he was only 230 votes ahead of Juan Ovalle, and Tunua Thrash-Ntuk was even closer, only 79 behind Austin.

There also were two open Long Beach Unified School District seats at stake Tuesday.

In District 2, Felton Williams’s seat, former Long Beach City Councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga had a comfortable lead Wednesday. Erik Miller, who received an endorsement from Williams, was solidly in second, and John Andre Matthew II trailed with just more than 20 percent of the vote. A runoff election is likely, with Uranga at 43.9%.

In District 4, where Jon Meyer is retiring, Doug Otto appears on the verge of winning the seat outright. He had 52.7% of the total Wednesday morning. He needs 50% plus one vote to be declared winner of the seat. Davina Keiser had just more than 25% of the votes and Nancy Valencia was third

Otto, who was endorsed by Meyer, currently is a Long Beach City College trustee, and will complete his term there before joining the school board this December.

All of the Long Beach winners in 2020 elections will be sworn in on Dec. 15. That includes Fourth District City Councilman Daryl Supernaw, who was appointed to another term when no when challenged him.

The Los Angeles County Clerk and Recorder must certify the election results by April 10. Updates from that office will continue until the results are certified.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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