UPDATE: This story has been updated to note that information on uncounted mail-in and provisional ballots is likely to be added to the vote total later today, with that information posted on the city’s website.
Incumbents John Heilman and John Duran were re-elected to the West Hollywood City Council on Tuesday, with challengers Steve Martin and Cynthia Blatt in the third and fourth positions.
The L.A. County Registrar-Recorder / County Clerk reported at 1:40 a.m. today that Heilman had 2,252 votes, or 25.55% of the 8,813 votes counted. Duran had 1,929 votes, or 21.89% of the total. Martin and Blatt tied with one another, with each getting 1,532 votes (17.38% of all votes cast.)
Other challengers in order of their votes were Nate Clark, 469 votes (5.32%), Amanda Goodwin, 281 votes (3.19%), Carla Romo, 274 votes (3.11%), Michael Cautillo, 236 votes (2.67%), Reed Stillwell, 172 votes, (1.95%) and Joel Quaresimo, 137 votes (1.55%)
The votes thus far are unofficial results and only include vote-by-mail ballots that were processed and counted up until election day, and ballots that were voted at polling Locations. There are additional vote-by-mail ballots and provisional ballots to be processed and counted. Provisional ballots would include those cast by a voter at the wrong polling place.
City Clerk Yvonne Quarker said her staff will reach to the county registrar-recorder today for an update on the count, which will be posted on the city’s website.
Some political observers had expected that this year’s voter turnout would be less than that in 2015, when 4,929 votes were cast in the March City Council election and 5,025 votes were cast in a special council election in June of that year. That expectation was based on the relatively late start of the campaigns and the belief that many voters have become wearied of politics after the contentious November presidential election. Assuming almost all of the voters in Tuesday’s election voted for two candidates, the maximum allowed, the total number of voters as of early this morning would have been no more than 4,407. But it is not unusual for another 700 or 800 mail-in or provisional ballots to be counted later.
Traditionally it is clear by midnight who is winning a West Hollywood election, with votes counted locally in the City Council chambers. But this year the city was forced to merge its vote counting operations with that of Los Angeles County, which has Measure H, a tax to provide housing for the homeless, on the March 7 ballot. As a result, WeHo ballots were trucked to Norwalk where the county registrar-recorder’s office is doing the count along with that for 29 other cities and the L.A. Unified School District Board of Education election and the L.A. Community College Board of Trustees election. The registrar-recorder also is calculating votes on Measure S, a City of Los Angeles ballot measure that would put a moratorium on granting amendments to the city’s general plan for new construction projects and Measures M and N, which would establish a city tax and a permit program for marijuana sales.
That meant many candidates wrapped up their election night rallies without knowing the results. Martin, who served on the council from 1994 to 2003 and lost three other re-election attempts, ended his campaign rally at V Wine Room at 11 p.m. “We are guardedly optimistic,” Martin said when asked about then his chances. “We’ve got a lot of people supporting us. … We’ll just see what happens.”
“People are very concerned about the density of the city,” Martin said. “People are very angry about the status quo. Volunteers have been popping out of the woodwork … We have a lot of support, including a lot of board and commission members ….It’s sort of like a resistance movement.”
John Duran and John Heilman also called it a night before midnight at their rally at The Chapel. “The preliminary results were very encouraging, very positive for us,” Heilman said then. “ …. I am just really humbled and, as I said earlier, it’s such a privilege to serve the people of West Hollywood.”
Duran declined to comment at the time. Cynthia Blatt held a private gathering at her home to which reporters were not invited.
The election results aren’t official until later this month. The county registrar-recorder has 30 days to count and canvass all of the ballots, which will include vote-by-mail ballots that may not yet have arrived. In an announcement of the process, the city said the registrar-recorder will try to certify the election results by March 29. The results then will be declared official by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors at its April 4 meeting.
The WeHo City Council then is expected to approve the certified election results at its regular meeting on April 17. Heilman, who currently is the “mayor pro tempore,” will be installed as mayor at the City Council meeting on May 15.