With several election races unsettled on Tuesday, Redondo Beach voters can expect a prolonged campaign season stretching into May.
That's because candidates for mayor and two City Council districts failed to secure more than 50 percent of the vote, pushing the top two contenders in each race into a runoff.
And on that same May 14 ballot, voters will select a city treasurer to replace Ernie O'Dell, who retired partway through his term. Running for his seat are former Councilman Chris Cagle, soon-to-be-termed out Councilman Steve Diels and resident Dawn Esser.
According to Tuesday's final unofficial returns, the May mayoral contest will feature Councilmen Steve Aspel, who is termed out in District 1, and Matt Kilroy, who made a run for the top seat halfway through his second term representing District 5.
Aspel led his three challengers throughout the night, ending up with 39.7 percent of the vote to Kilroy's 28.4 percent. Councilman Pat Aust of District 3 landed in third place with 21.7 percent, followed by political newcomer Eric Coleman with 10.2 percent.
On Wednesday, Aspel said he was humbled by the votes he received and pleased that more than one runoff race is shaping up for the spring - an outcome that he hopes will boost voter participation.
"Since I have a runoff race, I want everyone else to have one, too," he said. "I'm happy. I walked in prepared for a runoff but it sure would have been nice. ... It's going to be 24-7 for the next 10 weeks."
Kilroy was encouraged by the voter turnout for the municipal election - the City Clerk's Office put it at 26.2 percent - saying he believes the wide interest in the power plant rezoning measure "really did push a number of voters" to the polls.
When all outstanding ballots are counted, voter participation could pass 12,000 - well above the roughly 7,000 voters casting ballots in 2009 and 6,340 in 2007, according to the clerk's office.
Tuesday's "semi-official" counts will change as election workers tally some 1,600 provisional and vote-by-mail ballots dropped off at polling places.
In addition to choosing a mayor, Redondo voters in May will settle runoffs in District 1, where four candidates fought for Aspel's seat, and District 4 in north Redondo, where Diels is termed out.
The only one spared from a runoff is harbor-area Councilman Bill Brand of District 2, who beat his two challengers with 55.9 percent of the vote. Trailing Brand with 34.4 percent was Harbor Commission Chairman Michael Jackson and Susan Kowalski, 9.6 percent.
In the southernmost District 1, Jeff Ginsburg and Jim Light are headed to a runoff.
Ginsburg clinched the first-place spot in the four-way race with 41.
District 4 voters will see yet another runoff. Stephen Sammarco, who runs a public/government affairs firm, led his two challengers with 40.9 percent of the vote. Landing in second place - and earning a runoff spot - was Jan Jeffreys, a library commissioner, with 31.8 percent. Julian Stern, an 18-year-old student, trailed with 27.3 percent of the vote.
The counting in council chambers seemed to take longer than it has during prior elections. But Manzano said workers didn't begin receiving votes from the city's 10 precincts until 9:30 p.m., with the final batch arriving at 10:30 p.
Another issue for election workers, she said, is a new state law requiring that they look for instances when residents "over-vote" - for example, place an ink dot next to a candidate's name and also write it down. In those cases, duplicate ballots must be created, she said, and the originals kept separate.
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