Update: Choi is steadily gaining on O'Farrell as more votes flow in. See bottom for details. First posted at 10:49 p.m.
Local knowledge is prevailing over ambitious newcomer — at least in the early returns for Los Angeles City Council District 13, a huge urbanized-plus-hills district including Hollywood and the Tri-Hipster Area.
City Council aide Mitch O'Farrell has 5,648 votes, or 52.51 percent, and political neophyte John Choi, heavily underwritten by labor special interest groups, has 5,107 votes or 47.48 percent.
O'Farrell was the decade-long deputy to Councilman Eric Garcetti, and has participated in scores of community meetings, hearings and projects. Choi, unknown in the area until recently, moved to Echo Park last year to run for the office and launched a high-cost effort to build his name ID.
Choi is backed by vast sums of union money, and earned the unwanted attention of the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times, which singled him out — alone among City Council candidates — for his fealty to unions.
Choi, who served on the obscure Board of Public Works for less than a year, argues that he is ready for office, having gained an understanding of the city's infrastructure and other problems on that board.
O'Farrell argues that his extensive local knowledge and track record should be the decider.
John Choi had nearly pulled even with Mitch O'Farrell, trailing by only about 400 votes by 11:20 p.m. If the trend continues, Choi will move ahead of O'Farrell during the early hours of Wednesday morning.