LOS ANGELES, Calif. (FOX 11 / AP) - Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti claimed a second term, easily trouncing 10 little-known rivals in an election with a tiny turnout but potentially major implications for the nation's second-largest city.
The 46-year-old Democrat, whose campaign benefited from an improved economy, won 81 percent of about 250,000 votes cast in Tuesday's election. Mitchell Jack Schwartz was a very distant second with 8 percent.
Garcetti's huge margin of victory allowed him to avoid a runoff in May.
"I want to thank the citizens who voted for me, you made this moment possible," Garcetti told supporters at his victory party, then repeated the line in Spanish. "Tonight, we celebrate, and tomorrow I'll go back to work doing the job I love."
He also made veiled references to President Donald Trump and his policies, saying "It's time to stop thinking about the most powerful man in our country and start thinking about the most vulnerable people in our city."
Garcetti, who was elected four years ago on a back-to-basics slogan, has touted job growth, helped secure funds for rail lines intended to help unclog freeways and championed a $1 billion program to get control of a homeless crisis. He often is mentioned as a likely candidate for higher office, and the victory could provide a springboard for future campaigns.
In the voting for the city's ballot measures, the fiercely contested proposal known as Measure S, intended to restrict larger real estate projects, was handily defeated with nearly 69 percent opposed. Garcetti had campaigned against the measure, which was intended to restrict taller, denser development in the city of 4 million people.
Another city ballot measure, which would give the mayor and City Council new powers to regulate marijuana as its recreational form becomes legal next year, had the support of 79 percent of voters. The measure would also set different tax rates for different forms of pot.
A Los Angeles County measure that asked for a quarter-cent sales tax increase to pay for homeless services got 67.4 percent support from about 550,000 votes. That was barely above the two-thirds threshold needed for passage but there still are an unknown number of mail-in and provisional ballots left to count.
The election came at a time of renewal and struggles for Los Angeles.
Once-dreary downtown has seen a rebirth, and new residents and trendy restaurants have been moving in. A stronger economy has helped bring jobs, including to the tech industry hub known as Silicon Beach. And a region without an NFL team for two decades now has two, the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers.
But poverty rates remain alarming, and tents used by the homeless run for blocks along some downtown streets. Violent crime has climbed for the third consecutive year, jumping by 37 percent from 2014 to 2016. And drivers continue to face some of the nation's worst gridlock, while potholes and cracked sidewalks bring gripes across the city.
Measure S shadowed municipal contests, and it challenged Garcetti's vision for building thousands of new apartments clustered around train stations.
Its supporters feared LA is being gradually transformed into a sunnier, West Coast version of Manhattan. They argue that City Hall too often bends to politically connected developers whose large projects with high rents drive out lower-income residents, contributing to homelessness and increasing congestion.
But Garcetti warned it could drive the city into recession. Rusty Hicks, who heads the powerful Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, called the proposal "an anti-worker housing ban" that would hobble the construction industry.
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