Election fallout: Turnout anguish and Wesson's win

garcetti-martinez-office-si.jpgLA Observed file photo

On the day after Tuesday's sleepy city election, everyone seems to be suddenly concerned that almost no one votes in Los Angeles races anymore. The participation rate on Tuesday was under 9 percent of registered voters, pending the final count. Sure, it was an off-year election — no citywide offices on the ballot, and no real races in most City Council districts — but even the supposedly hot contests passed largely unnoticed and undiscussed by most Angelenos. Stories on the topic were written today by the LA Times (several), the Washington Post, the Daily News and LA Weekly — "LA elections are starting to resemble the meetings of a ham radio society, where the top issue on each month's agenda is how to attract new members to the ham radio society," Gene Maddaus writes. The topic was also discussed by Take Two and Larry Mantle on KPCC and by Warren Olney on KCRW. The segment with Olney on "Which Way, LA?" included Alice Walton, the former City Hall reporter for KPCC, making her first appearance (I believe) on KCRW since leaving for the LA Times, where she aggregates the morning newsletter for the California section.

Lots of words expended, but the bottom line appears to be that nobody knows nuthin' about why people in LA (and elsewhere across the U.S.) aren't voting in local elections, or whether getting them to vote would actually change any outcomes or the direction of local politics.

The Times' David Zahniser and Catherine Saillant also did a piece on how sweet a day it was for City Council President Herb Wesson. He had a third of the voters in his own district vote against him, but otherwise his week has gone well. His candidates won and, due to the measures he backed that change the city election year, he gets an extra 18 months in office before terming out — an extension that will keep him employed until Mark Ridley-Thomas is termed off the Board of Supervisors, creating a possible opening for Wesson.

For Wesson, the accomplishments didn't stop thereā€¦

The veteran political operative helped one close ally, Councilman Jose Huizar, overcome a challenge from former county Supervisor Gloria Molina. He also assisted Marqueece Harris-Dawson, a nonprofit executive who handily won an open council seat in South Los Angeles.

For Wesson, it gets sweeter: Harris-Dawson will replace Bernard C. Parks, Wesson's sharp-tongued critic on the council.

That clean sweep leaves Wesson, whose district stretches from Crenshaw to Koreatown, in "a very privileged position," said Jaime Regalado, emeritus professor of political science at Cal State Los Angeles.

"He was a strong council president before, but he's way above that now," Regalado said.

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