Race tightens to just 113 votes in 5th District City Council race

The race for the 5th District City Council seat has narrowed to a difference of just one percentage point with an unknown number of ballots still outstanding.

Long Beach Unified School Board member Megan Kerr originally took a comfortable lead over political consultant Ian Patton at 54% to 46% when only mail-in ballots and early votes had been counted, but by the end of election night, Kerr’s lead narrowed to just 50.53%, a difference of only 113 votes over Patton’s 49.47%.

It’s unclear how many ballots remain to be tallied in the race. As long as they were postmarked by Election Day, valid mail-in ballots could continue to trickle in. The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office said it will release updated totals Friday with updates continuing all the way to Dec. 5 if necessary.

If Patton overtakes Kerr, it would be a considerable upset.

Kerr was backed by the city’s political establishment and would help solidify a more progressive voting block on the council. Patton campaigned for change within City Hall and would tilt the council in a more moderate direction and upend a majority that has been in place since 2020.

In their Long Beach Post debate, the candidates largely agreed that an international terminal at Long Beach Airport wasn’t a great idea, with both saying that the current noise ordinance at the airport must be protected. Kerr, however, supports holding conversations with residents on plans to “modernize” the airport while Patton opposes all talk of a possible international terminal.

The candidates differed sharply on the possible development of a park along the Los Angeles River, with Kerr wanting the city to focus on park space that’s already owned before purchasing new land while Patton sees the site as the start of a much-needed regional park in West Long Beach. On the subject of the Queen Mary’s future, which will be expensive regardless of what the city decides to do, Kerr said she needs further study before deciding what to do with the ship, while Patton proposed letting the voters decide through a ballot measure.

Kerr received a wide range of endorsements, including Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, six members of the City Council and 15 labor unions. Patton was endorsed by three former city council members, including Water Resource Board candidate Gerrie Schipske, as well as Long Beach Community College Trustee Ginny Baxter, who also endorsed Kerr.

District 5 was redrawn considerably during redistricting and now includes single-family homes in East Long Beach and areas west of Long Beach Airport, including Bixby Knolls. The incumbent in that district, Stacy Mungo, was drawn out of the new district boundaries and was ineligible to run.

For up-to-date election results, visit lbpost.com/elections.

Editor’s note: This story was updated with more up-to-date vote totals.

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Anthony Pignataro is an investigative reporter and editor for the Long Beach Post. He has close to three decades of experience in journalism leading numerous investigations and long-form journalism projects for the OC Weekly and other publications. He joined the Post in May 2021.
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