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Torosis, Zwick Lead Early Voting; Negrete in Battle to Keep Seat

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By Jorge Casuso

November 8, 2022 -- Rent Board Commissioner Caroline Torosis has built a large lead in the race for City Council, followed by Jesse Zwick, while incumbent Lana Negrete is in a tight battle for the third open seat, based on an early tally of votes cast. (Latest Election Results)

As of 3:35 a.m., Torosis had 8,327 votes, followed by Zwick with 7,321 votes. Negrete was a distant third with 5,494 votes after withstanding a prolonged barrage of negative ads.

Planning Commissioner Ellis Raskin, slow-growth activist Armen Melkonians and former League of Women Voters president Natalya Zernitskaya were tangled in a close fight some 500 votes behind.

The early morning tally includes all 465,761 in-person ballots cast at polling places countywide, including those cast on election day, according to the County Registrar.

The latest count also includes all mail-in ballots received as of last weekend, which total 852,332. Yet to be counted are mail-in ballots postmarked by Monday that have not been received and those dropped in drop boxes on Monday.

The LA County Registrar's office is scheduled to release updated figures Friday.

Early Wednesday morning, Measure GS -- Mayor Sue Himmelrich's transfer tax hike -- had 9,075 yes votes (51.82 percent) and 8,437 no votes (48.18 percent). It needs a simple majority to win.

Meanwhile measure DT, Councilmember Phil Brock's rival -- and far more modest -- transfer tax was being trounced, winning only 34.06 percent of the vote, with 65.94 percent of the voters opposing it.

Himmelrich's $56 per $1,000 transfer tax hike for properties that sell for $8 million or more would generate an estimated $50 million a year to fund affordable housing, homelessness prevention and public schools and has no expiration date.

In the race for four open School Board seats incumbents Laurie Lieberman and Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein appeared headed for reelection, while Stacy Rouse, a Malibu resident, and Alicia Mignano also hold sizable leads.

Rouse is poised to be the only member of A Brighter Future slate -- which aimed to shake up the School Board -- to win a seat on the Board, where she would replace Malibu resident Craig Foster.

The slate's other three members -- Esther Hickman, Angela DiGaetano and Miles Warner -- trailed the fourth-place finisher by some 3,000 votes.

Three incumbents on the College Board -- Sion Roy, Nancy Greenstein and Barry Snell -- are headed for an easy victory and will likely be joined on the board by Tom Peters, who leads Patrick Acosta II by more than 6,000 votes.

Facing no competition, Rent Board incumbents Ericka Lesley and Kurt Gonska, who were recently appointed to the five-member board, will be joined by Daniel S. Ivanov, the only other candidate on the ballot.

Measure SMC -- a $375 million bond measure to fund improvements at Santa Monica College and help build housing for homeless and low-income students -- was just short of the 55 percent needed.

The measure had 11,300 yes votes (54.57 percent) to 9,407 no votes (45.43 percent).

In addition to the estimated $50 million generated by Himmelrich's Measure GS, the City's general fund will likely see a welcome influx of new funding after two other tax measures were headed toward approval.

Funding to address homelessness and public safety will likely get an estimated $4.1 million a year boost after Measure CS -- which raises the bed tax on hotels, motels and home shares -- was cruising to an easy victory with nearly 73 percent of the vote.

Measure HMP -- which establishes a 10 percent business tax on every licensed cannabis business -- has received the support of two-thirds of the early voters. If approved, it would generate between $3 million and $5 million.

Rent Control tenants could see their general rent adjustment drop from 6 to 3 percent if Measure RC remains on track with nearly 57 percent of the vote.

Measure EM -- which gives the Rent Board authority to disallow or modify general rent increases when the federal, state or local government declares a state of emergency -- leads by a similar margin.

Also appeared headed to victory is Measure PB, which expands eligibility requirements for members of the City’s Personnel Board to those who work full-time in the City or have a business license.

Editor's note: This article was updated at 8 a.m. to indicate that the vote totals are based on early voting tallies.

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