Councilman Dee Andrews hugs Jeannine Pearce. Photo by Keeley Smith.
After a painstakingly long and close election night, with the rival Second District city council candidates neck and neck for the seat, Jeannine Pearce closed the initial election proceedings in the lead, at 50.96 percent to Gray’s 49.04 percent.
Just 134 votes stood between the two—a number likely to change as additional vote by mail and provisional ballots are counted in the next few days.
"There are still outstanding vote by mail and provisional ballots that need to be counted. We'll get a number on how many are left later today," said Long Beach City Clerk Maria de la Luz Garcia. She said she expected an update on the provisional vote tally to occur on Friday, and a final update including all vote by mail ballots to occur early next week.
The early returns Tuesday evening initially had Second District City Council candidate Eric Gray leading the way, at 50.94 percent of the votes, and rival Jeannine Pearce at 49.06 percent.
“We probably have a very long night ahead of us,” Jeannine Pearce told her crowd. She was spot on.
After a brief interlude where the race heated up to exactly 50/50 for each—identical counts of 1,059 votes for both Gray and Pearce—Pearce rose to the lead position, to the delight of the crowd.
Jeannine Pearce's party kicks off late into the night. Photo by Keeley Smith.
As the DJ and crowd at Pearce’s party continued to pick up steam, supporters at Gray’s mixer remained calm and composed. The final results began to stream in as both parties came to a close: with six out of 28 precincts reporting, Pearce pulled ahead at 12:52AM to 49.17 percent with 22 precincts left to report, leading Gray by just 42 votes.
"For the last year, we said we think we can we think we can we think we can... and tonight, we did it!" said Pearce of the preliminary results, addressing the crowd at her election night party at Long Beach's Federal Underground.
Though the margin was razor-thin, Gray was a bit more contained.
“We always knew it was going to be a close election, and I’m just really happy to see the support we have here and we’ll find out tomorrow what happens,” Gray told the Post at his party at the Stave. “I felt good, I felt we ran a strong ground campaign but we knew we were against some forces out there that are sophisticated in the campaign. We did what we could from the grassroots perspective.”
Pearce’s lead will be tested in the coming days, as provisional ballots and vote by mail ballots will continue to be counted. The final number is expected to be calculated and announced on Thursday or Friday.
The supporters were quick to show their love of each candidate, despite the rather dramatic, neck-and-neck nature of the results stream.
“There seems to be a really positive energy here tonight,” said Josh Butler, who has known Pearce since she moved to Long Beach, at Pearce headquarters. “I personally think it means her message has resonated with voters, and she’ll be victorious tonight.”
Drinks were poured while waiters walked around with hors d’ouevres of bruschetta and cheese. A DJ spun beats and the dancing grew as the night wore on.
“I support her because she’s all about integrity and grit,” said Christina Bennett, who made it to Pearce’s headquarters from the Fourth District. “She knows how to take people—she brings them together. People of all backgrounds, sexual orientation, gender, race and age.”
Gray’s supporters were equally enthusiastic, as they mingled on the patio and within the doors of the Stave.
Photo by Stephanie Rivera.
“I like how he’s involved with the community, especially with music and small business because I’m in the music industry and I have a small business,” said Ayana Cobb, 42. “I’m a music manager. His vision is that he feels that long beach is a really good place for music as far as how similar to like what Austin Texas is doing with SXSW.”
“I like Eric because I thought he had a good vision and I thought he was very detailed in the way he laid out what that vision was and that he was pragmatic and I felt he would be good on the council and he would work well with the council and he would understand what’s realistic, kind of a pragmatic progressive, is kind of what I think he is,” said Yanuzzi, 52. “I felt he would best be able to take that vision and implement his vision. I like that he wants to develop the Broadway corridor, that he has ideas for expanding fourth street; I live in Bluff Heights so those are important issues for me.”
Follow the Post as the final election results are released in the coming days.
Above, left: Gray poses with Assemblymember Patrick O'Donnell. Photo by Stephanie Rivera.