Carson Mayor Jim Dear trounced one of his strongest City Council rivals in Tuesday's election to capture a third term after a contentious campaign.
According to unofficial returns released early Wednesday, Dear collected 59.9 percent of the vote to 40.1 percent for his challenger, Councilwoman Lula Davis-Holmes.
Dear, who has been mayor for eight years, also appears poised to recapture the council majority he lost more than a year ago. That's because one of the council candidates he backed - Albert Robles - pushed out incumbent Councilwoman Julie Ruiz-Raber, who supported Davis-Holmes in Tuesday's election.
Robles won 23.8 percent of the vote compared to Ruiz-Raber's 21.6 in the eight-way race for two council seats.
Incumbent Councilman Mike Gipson, who is allied with Davis-Holmes, won a third term Tuesday with 29.2 percent.
With Ruiz-Raber gone, Davis-Holmes and Gipson are expected to lose control of the council to Dear, Robles and Councilman Elito Santarina.
Measure M, which would have changed the directly elected mayor's seat to one appointed by the council on a rotating basis, was overwhelmingly rejected by 83.2 percent of voters.
Robles, 44, is an attorney and president of the Water Replenishment Board of Southern California. He has come under scrutiny for his personal financial troubles because he did not pay state taxes and credit card bills.
If elected, he said he wants to work with foreign investors who want to immigrate to this country through a federal program that requires them to establish job-creating businesses here in exchange for a green card. He also wants to increase monitoring of recently released parolees and probationers in the city.
Ruiz-Raber, 71, is a retired executive assistant
Gipson, 46, is a retired police officer and union representative with a long history of working for legislators. He currently works as the district director for state Board of Equalization Chairman Jerome Horton. Gipson said he looks forward to seeing large new developments come to the city in the next four years.
"I feel extremely blessed the residents of Carson have invested in me a level of faith to return me to the City Council for a third term," Gipson said from his campaign headquarters on Tuesday. "My goal is to move the city forward so we're all rowing in the same direction."
Though Davis-Holmes lost her bid for mayor, she will remain on the council for two years to serve out her third term.
Dear, 60, is a part-time substitute teacher who was elected to the council in 2001 and became mayor three years later.
He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
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