The races for several City Council seats remained tight in local cities, where a slim margin of votes separate the leaders with provisional and vote-by-mail ballots to be counted.

In Norwalk, where two seats are up for grabs, second-place finisher Mayor Mike Mendez narrowly leads Marcel Rodarte by 57 votes, (1,808 to 1,751) when all precincts reported late Tuesday. (Vice Mayor Cheri Kelley, the city's top vote-getter with 1,972 votes, won one of the seats.)

But with about 446 provisional and vote-by-mail ballots left, results could shift in Rodarte's favor.

"I think I still have a good chance of winning," Rodarte said Wednesday. "I was up against a 20-year incumbent and am 57 votes away and there are still 446 ballots to be counted.

"I can hope. I'm crossing my fingers."

Mendez said Wednesday he was happy with Tuesday's results but recognized that there are still ballots uncounted.

"I would hope the voters would keep me in office, but there's not much I can do about it," Mendez said. "I have to wait."

Those remaining ballots are being verified at the Los Angeles County Clerk's Office, according to the Norwalk City Clerk's Office. An open ballot-counting process will take place at a later date.

Asked if he plans to ask for a recount if he loses, Rodarte replied: "I don't know. It depends how close it is. If it looks questionable I will."

Tuesday's tallies in Norwalk also showed candidates Candice Martinez earning 1,578 votes; Anthony Garcia with 1,253 votes; and Raul Mejia with 167 votes.

Bellflower

In Bellflower, Planning Commissioner Dan Koops led challenger C. "Sonny" Santa Ines by 113 votes, 1,478 to 1,365 votes when all nine precincts reported.

They have been battling for the second and final seat left by retiring Councilwoman Dorothy King. (Incumbent Scott A. Larsen, Bellflower's top vote-getter with 1,587 votes, won the other open seat.)

However, about 300 votes need to be accounted for. An open ballot-counting process of the remaining votes will take place in the Council Chambers at 1 p.m. Friday, said Bellflower spokeswoman Lynn Komadina.

Koops said Wednesday he felt confident he will maintain his lead, adding that provisional ballots have historically been in line with the initial count. "Unless you have a very, very close election, like 20 to 30 votes, there shouldn't be a change in the outcome," Koops said. "But we won't know that until Friday. I accept the fact that at this point in time, it looks as though I'm going to be able to be seated."

Tuesday's results also showed candidates Paul L. Helzer with 548 votes, Pat Thibodeaux with 440 votes and John Laskowski with 173 votes.

Bellflower Measure A

Little was left in doubt over the fate of Bellflower's Measure A, which passed by an overwhelming margin - 2,348 in favor to 530 opposed with all precincts reporting.

The passage of the measure, which would extend the utility-users' tax to cover changes in communication technologies, is good news for Bellflower, which stood to lose

$1.8 million in revenue if it failed.

Cerritos

In Cerritos, incumbent Carol Chen maintains a 130-vote lead over challenger Mark Pulido, with 3,227 votes to 3,097.

Whether that outcome would shift in Pulido's favor is uncertain. The City Clerk's Office in Cerritos did not have the number of provisional and absentee ballots Wednesday.

Incumbent Carol Chen just finished her third election run in two years, earning her way onto the council last June in a special election after falling just short in her previous run.

Mayor Jim Edwards easily won re-election, receiving the most votes with 3,868 votes, according to unofficial results.

"Being mayor has been a huge honor," said Edwards, who will hand over the mayoral reins to Bruce Barrows. "It's been a great four years. I've done an excellent job, but a lot of times it's not about that.

"I'm ready to do another four years. I'd to do it again and then retire."

Tuesday's results also showed Cindy Yen Chen was in fourth place with 2,056 votes, followed by Chris Fuentes with 1,174 and Michael Udomratsak with 224. 

Fuentes, who finished in last place in his run during the special election in June, remains unbowed and claims that he has brought the real issues and the tough questions that have helped define the election.

"We've had all these feel-good Kumbaya campaigns," Fuentes said. "I ran on the issues."

Edwards said many of the negative claims Fuentes made about the city's failings were plain wrong.

"Would we have the status that we do as a city if those things were true?" Edwards said. "What this city has accomplished speaks for itself."

Fuentes was realistic about his long odds of prevailing against well-known and well-heeled competition.

"If it doesn't work out, my (2011) campaign starts tomorrow," he said Tuesday night with a laugh.

Signal Hill

In Signal Hill, where four candidates were running for three positions, the three incumbents swept.

Mike Noll led the field with 563 votes, Ellen Ward was second with 514, Ed Wilson third with 478. Challenger Edward Villanueva came up shy with 411 votes.

"I'm exhausted but I'm very pleased the residents supported me," Noll said. "I think the next four years will be even better than the last four years."

Noll also took a moment to thank all the candidates for running clean campaigns, especially Villanueva, who although he fell short in a second run, increased his vote count from the previous election.

This year's election also appeared free of the strife that racked the last election in 2007. In that bitter battle, Nancy Long appeared to beat incumbent Larry Forester by nine votes on Election Day, but lost two days later by one vote on the final count.

Ward, who will take over mayoral duties in the next year, said she was excited to begin her term as mayor.

Paramount

A faulty machine temporarily suspended the ballot-counting process in Paramount, pushing final unofficial tallies close to midnight.

But when all eight precincts were finally reported, they all leaned toward incumbents Gene Daniels and Peggy Lemons, who appeared all evening poised to win their fourth terms in office.

Tallies showed Daniels with 1,110 votes, Lemons with 1,007 votes and challengers Jaime Guerrero and Hector Pena with 576 and 374 votes, respectively.

Daniels, who spent much of Wednesday retrieving his campaign signs, said he is pleased to have another four years to serve the community.