Allen, Burke, Kuehl and Lieu claim victory Santa Monica voters reject airport protection measure, elect three to city council

Sheila Kuehl  and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa celebrate her victory in the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors race during Kuehl’s election night party at The Victorian in Santa Monica
Sheila Kuehl and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa celebrate her victory in the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors race during Kuehl’s election night party at The Victorian in Santa Monica | Photo by Marta Evry

By Gary Walker and Joe Piasecki

Westside voters on Tuesday elected Sheila Kuehl to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Santa Monica school board member Ben Allen to the California Senate, Autumn Burke to the state Assembly and Ted Lieu to replace retiring Rep. Henry Waxman in the House of Representatives.

In Santa Monica, voters rejected an aviation industry-backed measure that would have barred city officials from restricting or prohibiting flights at Santa Monica Airport. Voters opted instead to support a competing city measure that would require voter approval before city leaders could convert the land into anything but park space.

Santa Monica voters also elected city Planning Commission member Sue Himmelrich and re-elected Kevin McKeown and Pam O’Connor to the city council, with McKeown finishing first among an at-large field of 14 candidates.

In all of Los Angeles County, 25.25% of eligible voters — more than 1.1 million people — cast ballots by mail or at the polls, according to the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder’s office.

The Santa Monica City Clerk’s office reported that 18,338 of the city’s 58,803 registered voters weighed in on the controversial airport ballot measure, making for a turnout of roughly 31%.

Board of Supervisors

The contest between former state legislator Kuehl and former Santa Monica Mayor Bobby Shriver, both Democrats, had become acrimonious in recent weeks, but Kuehl’s election night gathering at The Victorian in Santa Monica took on a festive atmosphere as she pulled away with 52.7% of the vote.

Kuehl, who becomes the first openly gay county supervisor and only the fourth woman to serve on the board, laughed and joked with L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin, former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and hundreds of other supporters.

Continuing the expansion of light rail and reforming the foster care system are Kuehl’s immediate priorities, she said.

“This [office] would probably be the largest challenge that I’ve undertaken because of the responsibilities, because on this small and important legislative body I’ll be representing two million people,” said Kuehl, 73. “It will be the last office that I hold, and I would really like to make a mark.”

At about 7 a.m. Wednesday, Shriver tweeted: “Congrats @SheilaKuehl! And gratitude to the volunteers and both teams who worked hard to bring choice to LA voters. Great days are ahead!”

California Legislature

Allen, who raised more money than opponent Sandra Fluke and benefitted from more than $1 million in independent expenditures, trounced her at the polls, taking close to 61% of the vote. Both are Democrats.

Allen, 36, held his election night gathering at Warszawa restaurant in Santa Monica, and Fluke, 33, gathered supporters at Santino’s Santa Monica. Both Democrats declined to comment on election night.

Winning more than 75% of ballots cast, Democrat Autumn Burke, daughter of former county supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, defeated Republican businessman Ted Grose.

Burke’s top priority in Sacramento: “create an environment where businesses can grow and stay in California.“

Locally, “I would like to see the Ballona Wetlands integrated more within the community so that not only certain groups have access to this ecological reserve,” said Burke, 40, a Marina del Rey resident.

House of Representatives

Lieu, a Democratic state senator representing Westside communities, won more than 58% of the vote to defeat Republican county gang prosecutor Elan Carr in the contest to replace Waxman. Supporters attending Lieu’s election night party at The Proud Bird restaurant in Westchester included Waxman, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Reps. Karen Bass and Janice Hahn.

While planning to chart his own course in the Republican-dominated House of Representatives, Lieu said he feels a duty to protect Waxman’s legislative accomplishments.

“The laws that he passed saved people’s lives, ranging from his fight against tobacco to the Clean Air Act and the Ryan White Act. I hope to continue working in those areas to make people’s lives better, which includes protecting a woman’s right to choose and addressing climate change,” said Lieu, 45.