Los Angeles Councilman Eric Garcetti has been elected mayor of the United States’ second-largest city after defeating his rival by a margin of 8 points, according to preliminary results.
Garcetti, who becomes the first Jewish mayor of Los Angeles, won 53.9 percent of the vote on Tuesday to defeat City Controller Wendy Greuel who garnered 46.1 percent of the vote, the city’s election division reported.
“Thank you Los Angeles – the hard work begins but I am honored to lead this city for the next four years,” Garcetti, 42, said early on Wednesday in a message on Twitter. “Let’s make this a great city again.”
Greuel, who if she had won would have become the city’s first woman mayor, called Garcetti early on Wednesday morning to concede the race, the Los Angeles Times reported.
A spokeswoman for Greuel could not be reached for comment.
The results remain preliminary as some mail-in ballots have not been counted, said Jose Heras, a senior clerk in the city’s election division. The ballots are not expected to change the result of the election.
Garcetti will take office July 1, replacing current Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a charismatic former labor organizer who has served two terms and faced off against the city’s unions to implement budget cuts born of the economic downturn. He was unable to run again because of term limits.
The influence of organized labor became a key issue during the race, with Garcetti questioning Greuel’s ability to wring concessions from public employee unions after they contributed heavily to her campaign.
The two liberal Democrats, once allies on the City Council, spent record sums vying for the city’s highest office. The race saw the Garcetti and Greuel campaigns spend a combined $23.7 million with outside groups pouring in another $10.4 million in independent expenditures, according to the latest figures from the City Ethics Commission.
The election was marked by low voter turnout, with just over 19 percent of registered voters casting a ballot, according to election figures from the City Clerk’s Office.
Garcetti has earned a reputation as a consensus builder since he was first elected to the City Council in 2001.
He served as council president from 2006 to 2011 and has called attention to his record on environmental initiatives and his role in the urban revival of once-blighted areas in Hollywood, the area he has represented.
A onetime Rhodes scholar, he is the son of former Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti, who was the city’s top prosecutor during the murder trial of O.J. Simpson in the 1990s.
This story "Eric Garcetti Declared First Jewish Mayor of Los Angeles" was written by Reuters.