Gil Cedillo, left, and Joe Bray-Ali.
* March 20 update: Final numbers confirm that Cedillo received 49.34 percent and there will be a runoff with Joe Bray-Ali.
The last sitting Los Angeles City Council member to be denied reelection and forced into a runoff was — well I can't even remember who or when. That's how unusual it is. But Friday's updated vote count from the Registrar-Recorder shows Gil Cedillo, the incumbent councilman in the Eastside and downtown 1st district, slipping below the 50 percent-plus-one level needed to win in the primary without a runoff.
The results are shifting as the county Registrar-Recorder finishes counting provisional ballots and the mail-in vote. In some of the earlier updates, Cedillo surpassed the 50 percent-plus-one threshold. But there are now only about 9,000 votes left to tally from all county areas, and relatively few of those were likely cast in the 1st district race. So community activist Joe Bray-Ali's chances of forcing Cedillo into the May 16 runoff are looking good. The final vote update is expected on Monday.
Cedillo, a longtime state legislator, had to get through a runoff when he won the seat in 2013. In that year's runoff against Jose Gardea, Cedillo only got 51.95 percent of the vote. So he has never run strong in the 1st district. The 10,272 votes he has now are more than he got four years ago.
Cedillo on Friday said he regretted quipping on election night, when he looked to be winning, that Bray-Ali had put forth a “trendy, hippy, hipster proposal and agenda.” Bray-Ali is a leader in the bicycle activism community.
In the election held on March 7, six other City Council members were reelected by winning a majority. Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Attorney Mike Feuer and City Controller Ron Galperin also were reelected outright. Garcetti faced 10 challengers but received 81.39 percent of the vote anyway. The only city runoff already on the May 16 ballot is between Monica Rodriguez and Karo Tarossian in the 7th council district, where there is no incumbent.
In 2003, Antonio Villaraigosa defeated incumbent councilman Nick Pacheco in the primary, so there was no runoff needed. The last council member to face a runoff looks to be Nate Holden in 1999 — he missed in the primary with 49.37 percent then got 54.3 percent to defeat challenger Madison T. Shockley in the runoff in the 10th district.
The new results posted on Friday show definitively that county voters have passed Measure H to impose a higher sales tax on themselves to raise money for homeless improvements.