Hall found himself the victim of a racial smear when an Alarcon campaigner acknowledged that he had falsely spread word among African-American voters that Hall was a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
Worried about possible political damage, Hall's campaign publicly named the Alarcon worker at fault. Also, just three days before the election, Hall supporters staged a "People of Color for Lyle Hall" rally to underscore his minority support.
Alarcon also attacked Hall as a "double-dipper," pointing out that, if elected, Hall would earn a $90,000-a-year councilman's salary on top of his $50,000-a-year firefighter pension. Hall angrily replied that he had "earned that pension" by years of risking his life.
One Alarcon attack backfired. In a mail brochure, he reprinted a quote from Bernardi saying that if voters elected Hall, they would be "putting the fox in charge of the hen house." The councilman made the remark during his 1989 battle against Hall.
Bernardi said he had intended to remain neutral in this year's race. But he was so angered by Alarcon's use of the quote, which Bernardi said no longer reflected his feelings, that he chastised Alarcon and endorsed Hall.
In council elections elsewhere, former school board member Jackie Goldberg was trailing in early returns in her bid to become the first openly homosexual council member.
In the campaign, the possibility of Goldberg becoming the council's first openly gay or lesbian member became a bitter, if somewhat peripheral, issue.
During the primary campaign, some leaders of the gay political community criticized Goldberg, a longtime social reformer, for not campaigning aggressively enough as a gay activist. When Goldberg emerged as one of the two top finishers in the primary, most of the gay community coalesced behind her, as demonstrated by the substantial donations from activists that helped power her campaign.
The focus of the general election campaign, though, was on providing basic government services to the 13th District, which sprawls from Hollywood to Glassell Park.
The partial results also showed voters narrowly favoring veteran Harbor Area Councilwoman Joan Milke Flores, who has represented the 15th District for 12 years. The district stretches from Watts to the Harbor area.
Flores, 56, and challenger Rudy Svorinich, a 33-year-old paint store owner and first-time candidate, are Republicans who spent much of the runoff campaign attempting to expand their appeals beyond their mutual home base of San Pedro. The result was that they spent much of their time and energy on the district's predominantly minority and Democratic areas.
Times staff writers Sharon Bernstein and David Colker contributed to this report.