Updated at bottom to explain that the city election web site's confusing "7.52 percent reporting" is wildly misleading. Far far more votes have been counted. First posted at 9:05 p.m.
Gil Cedillo is leading Jose Gardea in early vote results for Los Angeles City Council District 1, with Cedillo getting 2,715 votes or 56.57 percent and Gardea 2,084 votes or 43.42 percent.
Cedillo and Gardea are vying to represent an Eastside council seat in a community with a dense population of Latinos, mostly immigrants from Mexico and Central America. CD 1 is one of the poorest neighborhoods in L.A., extending from Northeast Los Angeles to the Pico-Union area. The two men share some fascinating similarities and differences:
Gardea and Cedillo are both children of Mexican immigrants. Gardea grew up in Echo Park speaking Spanish at home, while Cedillo was raised in Boyle Heights speaking English. He learned Spanish 14 years ago.
As much as they share similar cultural backgrounds, Gardea and Cedillo have very different public persona: a local community guy vs. a longtime Sacramento lawmaker.
Gardea is closely knitted to the communities while running things behind the scenes as chief of staff for Councilman Ed Reyes, who is being termed out. Quite to the contrary, Cedillo enjoyed the spotlight and media attention during his political career as an Assembly member and state senator.
The two men and their backers have raised nearly $2 million for this costly runoff.
Cedillo and Gardea both hope to create jobs and ramp up economy in the district. However they didn't see eye-to-eye on redeveloping urban areas just outside of downtown.
According to Laura J. Nelson at the L.A. Times:
The most contentious issues in the race are linked to hotly contested development in areas near downtown. Gardea typically opposes such proposals, saying redevelopment does not include enough affordable housing and would be bad for surrounding neighborhoods. Cedillo has said he would work with community members and civic leaders to find compromises.
Gardea lashed out at Cedillo for his backing by cash-rich super PACs during the primary.
According to Matthew Mullins at L.A. Weekly:
Gardea says that, "The people of the 1st District should choose me because of my experience, ethics, and because I want to move the district forward."
"My opponent is benefiting with Super PACs from Chevron, Walmart, and Farmers Insurance. I'm not the corporate choice in this race. He owes an explanation on this to the people in District 1."
In a recent face-off, Cedillo accused Gardea of taking tens of thousands of dollars from developers and Republican donors.
Gloria Angelina Castillo from egpnews.com quoted Cedillo's campaign as saying:
"Jose Gardea is not who he says he is."
Update 10:04 pm:
We're seeing a lot of Tweets by L.A. residents assuring one another that "only 7.52 percent" of votes have been counted.
Wrong! That is city bureaucracy-speak for 7.54 percent of nearly 2 million registered voters. About 500,000 may have voted today. Not anything approaching nearly 2 million. So roughly speaking, folks, about 1/4 or 1/3 of the total vote has been counted, amounting to some 135,000 people.
Update 11:35 pm:
As votes at the polling places continue to be counted tonight, Gardea seems to be slowly catching up with his rival Cedillo, but Cedillo remains firmly in front.
Cedillo has 4,977 votes, roughly 6 percent over Gardea who has 4,401 votes. Cedillo Cedillo started off the night with a big lead over Gardea of roughly 13 percent.
It is likely that Gardea will continue to close in on Cedillo, tightening the race as the evening wears on.