Voters reelected incumbents in three of the four South Bay cities that had council elections Tuesday, but in Hermosa Beach a longtime City Council critic ousted an incumbent seeking a second term.
Hermosa Beach voters also agreed to tax themselves to help pay for preserving open space, but tax measures that would pay for paramedics in Hawthorne and ease a budget crunch in El Segundo were rejected.
Here are the details:
Two Hawthorne City Council members and the mayor retained their seats in Tuesday's election, while a tax measure to pay for a second paramedic unit failed to obtain the necessary two-thirds majority.
An estimated 441 write-in ballots have not been counted, but the candidates agreed that they are not enough to reverse the election outcome.
Mayor Betty J. Ainsworth--who with 2,171 votes decisively won reelection against challenger Kathleen Corsiglia, who had 705--said she was disappointed but not surprised that the city's paramedic measure, Proposition H, was defeated. "A two-thirds vote is very difficult to get," she said.
But the fact that nearly half of the voters cast ballots in favor of the proposition is evidence of public support for a second unit, Ainsworth said. Wednesday's results showed 1,427 votes (49.8%) in favor of Proposition H and 1,440 (50.2%) against. The city will consider budget cuts and increased fees as possible means of providing $300,000 a year to finance the rescue unit, she said.
Councilman Steven Andersen, a supporter of the tax measure who won reelection, agreed Wednesday that although the voters rejected the tax increase, they did show substantial support for another paramedic unit "providing we can find a way to finance it."
Corsiglia repeated her call for studies to determine whether the money for a second unit is already available in the Fire Department budget, or whether the county could provide paramedic service in the city more efficiently.
Reelected Councilwoman Ginny M. Lambert in her campaign opposed the tax, which would have amounted to $14 a year for a single-family residence.
"The people have said loud and clear that taxation is not what they want to hear," Lambert said Wednesday. She said the city should carefully examine proposed expenses for the paramedic unit and should review city expenditures to see where cuts could be made to finance the rescue service.
Lambert criticized the last-minute write-in campaign that electrical contractor Mike Martin undertook at the urging of Councilmen David York and Charles Bookhammer. York and Bookhammer slighted Lambert in the campaign by endorsing Andersen and Martin.
Lambert said the write-in effort caused unnecessary election costs and delays because of the necessity of counting the ballots by hand.
The write-in campaign may have hurt the votes for other candidates, she said, because if a write-in ballot does not include both the candidate's name and the office, the whole ballot--including the other votes on it--is thrown out by the county registrar.
"It was irresponsible of my two colleagues and the firemen's association to push a candidate to run" after the filing deadline, she said.
The Hawthorne Firemen's Assn. endorsed Martin, Eleanore I. Carlson and Ainsworth, all of whom supported Proposition H.
Even if all 441 of the write-in ballots are for Martin, he would still fall far behind Lambert and Andersen, who were the top vote-getters with 1,962 and 1,834 votes, respectively.
County officials said counting of write-in ballots will begin today and results may not be available for several days.