Long Beach City Council races remained mostly unchanged, with several appearing to be headed to a November runoff, according to a vote-count update from Los Angeles County election officials Friday.
The small update included just 5,316 new ballots counted since the last update Tuesday afternoon as the county winds down its counting efforts and plans to certify the election next week. The county said Friday that it has just 7,075 ballots left to process.
Councilmember Mary Zendejas continues to hold onto a small margin over the required 50% mark that would see her win her first full term on the council rather than have to continue campaigning until the Nov. 8 runoff.
Zendejas is about 13 votes over 50% with an undisclosed amount of Long Beach ballots still left to be counted by the county.
Despite the small margin between Zendejas and 50%, her race would not fall into the automatic recount requirement spelled out in the city charter that says the City Clerk must order a recount if two candidates are separated by less than 0.5% and less than 50 votes.
The city would have to pay for the costs of any recount trigged by the city charter.
Mariela Salgado, a city commissioner and community advocate, is in second place (29%) but is more than 1,100 votes behind Zendejas.
North Long Beach’s 9th District votes leader, Joni Ricks-Oddie, appears to have narrowly missed winning the primary outright with just over 49% of the vote. She’s 26 percentage-points ahead of Ginny Gonzales, who appears headed to the November runoff after Friday’s update.
The 3rd District race in Southeast Long Beach has been the closest race since election night and had the most candidates in any council race. The top three candidates are separated by just three percentage points with Kristina Duggan (22%) in the lead. Kailee Caruso (20.3%) increased her lead over Nima Novin (19.7%) by three votes and is 87 votes ahead.
City Clerk Monique De La Garza said the city’s automatic recount ordinance only applies to the top two candidates, so a third-place candidate like Novin would have to request a recount and pay for the associated costs.
The only Long Beach recount attempted under the county’s two-year-old voting system was in 2020 when a group led by Ian Patton, now running for the 5th District City Council seat, tried to have the vote tally for Measure A recounted. The estimated cost was near $200,000 and the group eventually ended its bid before challenging the process in court.
Measure A passed by 16 votes.
De La Garza said that the city has not asked for estimates of recounts because it didn’t think it would have to do one but said that there should be a considerable cost difference between Measure A, a citywide recount, and a City Council district recount that would only have a fraction of the ballots.
Nearly 100,000 ballots were cast for Measure A in 2020 while about 5,000 ballots have been counted so far in the city’s 1st District race.
The city’s 5th District race is likely headed to November as well with Megan Kerr (48%) and Patton (31%) maintaining their holds on the top of the vote counts since election night.
Councilmember Rex Richardson’s lead continued to grow, and now leads Councilmember Suzie Price by over seven-percentage-points heading into November. Since 1994, no mayoral candidate that has placed second in the primary has gone on to win in the runoff, according to the oldest records readily available on the City Clerk’s website.
Several city races were decided during the primary with incumbent Councilmember Roberto Uranga, City Auditor Laura Doud, City Prosecutor Doug Haubert all winning another term. They’re joined by Assistant City Attorney Dawn McIntosh who has led since election night in a bid to replace longtime City Attorney Charlie Parkin, who announced his retirement late last year.