District 8 forum

Candidate Tunua Thrash-Ntuk answers a question during the candidate forum for the Eighth District City Council seat Wednesday, Feb. 12. The forum was sponsored by the Los Cerritos Neighborhood Association. 

The Los Angeles County Clerk and Recorder’s office released the sixth update of ballots cast in the March 3 state primary election at 5 p.m. Tuesday night.

It appears the ballot counting finally is close to over, with only 64,000 votes still to be counted countywide. About 25,000 of those are mail-in ballots, and another 20,000 are classified conditional ballots, meaning the person’s voter registration is in question.

The total number of ballots counted now is 2,071,929, which is 37.58% of eligible Los Angeles County voters. Another update is scheduled for Friday, March 20.

Even with the count nearly done, two Long Beach elections may be too close to call.

Yes and no votes on the Measure A question about extending a 1% sales tax are less than 400 votes apart. There are 48,815 no votes and 48,460 yes votes — 355 votes apart, or ,36% difference.

In the Eighth District City Council race, incumbent Al Austin leads challenger Juan Ovalle by 130 votes for the second spot in the three way race. Tunua Thrash-Ntuk has pulled away to finish first with a nearly 500-vote lead over Austin.

The top two vote-getters go to a runoff. While the actual number of votes separating Austin and Ovalle is relatively small, Austin has a 1.51% lead over Ovalle — greater than the 1% threshold that would trigger an automatic recount. So far, 9,271 votes have been counted in the Eighth District.

There will be runoff elections in the Second and Sixth City Council districts as well, but the contestants there have already been determined.

In the open Second District, Robert Fox leads with 3,008 votes, and Cindy Allen is close behind with 2,915. That is more than 700 votes ahead of Jeannette Baragan, the third place finisher in the sevent-person race.

In the Sixth District, three-term incumbent Dee Andrews was overwhelmed by challenger Suely Saro, who leads Andrews by more than 1,000 votes. But the two square off again in the Nov. 3 primary; Saro has 44.94%.

The only outright winner in this election is Doug Otto, who captured the District 4 seat on the Long Beach Unified School District board with 14,127 votes or 51.37%. In the District 2 election, former Long Beach City Councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga and Erik Miller are in the runoff, with 5,653 and 4,681 votes, respectively.

The biggest city winner of the night was Measure B, a one percent increase in the Transient Occupancy Tax, also known as the hotel bed tax. That extra revenue will be split between arts groups and the Convention Center.

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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