LA Election Day: Low turnout signals voter apathy amongst Angelenos
LOS ANGELES -- Apparently unhappy with the candidates on the Election Day ballot, Silver Lake resident Ben Silverman wrote in a mayoral candidate. It was Handsome "Pepe" Pepper, his cat.
"I think there's a chance" his cat would do a better job as mayor of Los Angeles, Silverman said. "He's not in the pocket of the unions, I figured."
Voter turnout was extremely low for the election, despite important decisions at the ballot box. The Pat Brown Institute says cities like New York and Chicago often see voter turn off in the 40s. But in Los Angeles, a city of 4 million residents, the top vote getter for mayor didn't even clear 100,000 votes.
Ballots are still being counted and certified in downtown Los Angeles. The clerk says voter turnout was in the teens citywide. Turnout was between 16 to 18 percent. That's comparable to the last mayoral election in 2009.
"It's tough, it's on an off year, so a lot of people are just recovering from the November election," said Councilman Eric Garcetti, who received the most votes for mayor with more than 93,900.
Councilwoman Wendy Greue, who came in second place with a little more than 83,308 votes, agrees.
"There's a lot of fatigue based after the November election and others and I think also it's a sense of frustration by the public," she said.
Living in the sprawling city may appears to be a factor, said Dr. Raphael Sonenschien of the Pat Brown Institute said.
"In Los Angeles, the culture of the city doesn't really pay that much attention in this hugely scattered community where people live so far from each other," Sonenschien said.
Sonenschien also said the low turnout was driven by a lack of differences among the top candidates. He said Garcetti is a democratic City Hall veteran who's pro-union, and so is Greuel.
However, gender is the major difference between them. If elected, Greuel would be the city's first woman mayor.
"Of those people it does bring to the polls, it certainly will improve Wendy Greuel's chances," Sonenschien said. "Either cause, though, I think this is going to be a very, very close election."
election, politics, elex michaelson
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