Development referendum gets trounced, Bonin keeps his seat, and Zimmer will face Melvoin in a runoff

By Gary Walker and Joe Piasecki

With only about 11.3% of registered voters going to the trouble of casting a ballot by mail or at the polls on Tuesday, the Los Angeles County electorate didn’t exactly rock the vote.

But give us credit for being decisive.

Those who did vote chose to adopt or reject ballot measures by very wide margins, city government incumbents coasted to re-election, and two of four candidates seeking the Westside’s LAUSD board seat are headed to a runoff with significant showings of support.

The only squeaker concerning Westside voters was Los Angeles County Measure H — not because voters were split, but because it required a two-thirds supermajority. The quarter-cent sales tax to generate $350 million annually for homeless services picked up steam late in the game and appears to have passed with 67.44% of the vote, 379,005 yes votes to 182,969 against.

Los Angeles City Measure S, which would have imposed a two-year moratorium on large-scale development projects seeking General Plan or zoning changes, went down in flames. As of Wednesday, Measure S had racked up only 31.15% voter support, with 77,748 in favor to 171,831 against.

A plan for L.A. city officials to regulate recreational marijuana cruised to victory with 79.36% support, while a competing plan drafted by business interests failed with 36.35%.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti cruised to re-election with the biggest win of the night, defeating 10 dark horse candidates with a resounding 80.87% support, or 202,278 votes.

L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin, who represents Westside neighborhoods, easily overcame challenges by two Venice activists by winning more than enough votes to avoid a runoff. Bonin received 19,099 votes, or 69.99% support. Mark Ryavec, a longtime critic of city policies regarding the homeless, received 4,494 votes (16.47%); slow-growth advocate Robin Rudisill received 3,695 votes (13.54%).

Bonin’s landslide victory is “an affirmation of the hard work that I’ve been doing on behalf of our neighborhoods,” he said. “Voters judged me on my record and just didn’t buy the narratives that the other candidates were writing. While I disagree with how they tried to characterize my work, I applaud Mark and Robin for standing up and debating the issues.”

While LAUSD Board President Steve Zimmer came out well ahead of three challengers, he’ll face a May 16 runoff with former LAUSD middle school teacher Nick Melvoin.

Zimmer finished with 47.49% support, or 28,186 votes. Melvoin received 18,532 votes (31.22%), Palisades Charter High School board member Allison Holdorff Polhill received 8,581 votes (14.46%), and public relations specialist Gregory Martayan trailed with 4,056 votes (6.83%).

Lots of spending by political action committees not under candidates’ control sought to characterize the race as a battle between charter schools and the teacher’s union to tip the political balance of the LAUSD board.

“I’m very proud to see that our school family, after a very brutal race, chose a future of hope,” Zimmer said. “The voters of District 4 rejected the politics of hate and failure pushed by the charter association and their allies and embraced a message of hope and inclusion. This was a very important message for our kids.”

“This was a very vicious campaign, so I hope that we can get back to talking about the issues in the runoff,” Melvoin said. “We tried to run a campaign based on change and that rejected the stale arguments about charters and traditional schools and parents and teachers pitted against each other.”