There were several close calls in last week’s Primary Nominating Election in Long Beach held on April 8, and candidates in several races for public office didn’t know until this week whether they had won enough votes to take office or whether they needed to continue their campaigns in preparation for a General Municipal Election on June 3.
As the Signal Tribune reported last week, the Long Beach City Clerk’s office estimated that about 9,000 vote-by-mail and provisional ballots that were received on April 7 and April 8 had not yet been tallied. The city clerk’s office finally released an updated tally reflecting those votes this week. Results noted in this report are still unofficial since the city clerk has not yet certified the election.
The City saw another low voter turnout at last week’s election. Only 49,870 out of the 285,029 registered voters (17.5 percent) cared to fill in a ballot this time.
Although they had the potential to change who won the election, the 9,000 or so ballots that were tallied several days after Election Night did not change the standings of the frontrunners. Candidates had to win the election with a lead of “50 percent of the vote plus one” over their opponents to avoid the need to run in the June election. Three candidates very narrowly kept that necessary lead.
Roberto Uranga, a candidate running for the city-council seat in the 7th district, held on to 50.9 percent of the vote. He finished with 2,950 votes out of 5,796. Joan Greenwood trailed Uranga, finishing with only 1,428, or 24.64 percent of the vote.
Megan Kerr, a candidate for the first district of the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD), held on to 50.7 percent of the vote, or 3,912 votes out of the 7,716 votes that were cast. Uduak-Joe “Joey” Ntuk finished with only 3,804 votes, or 49.3 percent.
School Board President John McGinnis, who was seeking another term to represent the third district of the LBUSD, finished with 2,642 votes, or 51.04 percent. McGinnis defeated Juan Benitez, who finished with 2,534 votes, or 48.96 percent.
In a telephone interview with the Signal Tribune, Uranga recalled his feelings as he waited for the city clerk’s office to release the updated tally, describing the moment as a “nail-biter.”
Uranga said he knew that his campaign had performed well after Election Night results were posted, but he wasn’t sure until after the latest report was released whether he would have to spend more time working on a campaign for the June run-off election or whether he would be concentrating on getting ready to take over as the 7th-district councilmember. He was relieved to learn that, after the vote-by-mail and provisional ballots were tallied, he could concentrate on getting a transition team together and hiring a staff to help him run the office in City Hall.
“I can tell you personally– every vote counts, and every vote matters,” Uranga said, describing his concerns over the low turnout.
LBUSD President McGinnis said he was “very grateful to the voters for… an opportunity to serve a second term.”
McGinnis said that the LBUSD Board is concentrating on major issues, including the implementation of the Common Core standards. He also emphasized the importance of closing the achievement gap, recommending that the school district provide equitable distribution of the funds and their resources. He praised LBUSD’s efforts toward that goal.
There isn’t a report available from the city clerk’s office about how many votes were cast by mail versus how many individuals voted at the polls, however, most of the individual races reported higher voter participation through mailed-in ballots.
In the mayor’s race alone, 25,895 ballots were vote-by-mail ballots. Only 21,141 individuals chose to vote in person on Election Day. The updated tally also shows that there was a higher turnout by mail when they voted on Measure A, which proposed a general tax on medical marijuana sales. The measure easily won voter approval, winning with 32,068 votes, or 73.82 percent. Only 24,121 individuals cast their ballots by mail while 19,321 individuals chose to vote in person on this issue.