In Santa Clarita, an aide to a conservative state senator and a city planning commissioner emerged as front-runners late Tuesday night from a crowded field of 11 candidates vying for two City Council seats.
Voters in Lancaster, meanwhile, preserved the status quo by awarding a third two-year term to their mayor, Frank C. Roberts, and reelecting Councilmen Jim Jeffra and Andy Visokey.
In the Santa Clarita race, two growth-friendly candidates--each of whom raised more than $50,000 and enjoyed the support of the other three council members--held a small lead over two other contenders in early results, while the rest of the pack trailed far behind.
But with about 6,700 uncounted absentee ballots--more than the 5,326 votes counted Tuesday night--the race was still undecided, said Vince Bertoni, a city spokesman.
With 35 out of 36 precincts reporting, Cameron Smyth, 28, a legislative deputy for state Sen. William "Pete" Knight (R-Palmdale) was leading with 21.1% of the vote. He was closely followed by Robert C. Kellar, 55, a real estate agent who chairs the city's Planning Commission. Kellar had 20.2% of the vote. Marsha McLean, 59, a business owner and environmental activist, had 19.1% and education advocate Diane Trautman, 45, garnered 17.1%. The top two vote-getters will claim seats vacated by Jan Heidt and Jill Klajic, two longtime councilwomen who decided not to seek reelection.
Election night didn't hold quite the same suspense in Lancaster. Roberts coasted to victory with 81.3% of the vote, easily quelling a challenge from David Abber, a semiretired ticket broker whose candidacy was hobbled by felony stalking and drug possession charges.
Roberts, a former dean of Antelope Valley Community College, joined the Lancaster City Council in 1992. He became the first elected mayor of the high desert city in 1996. Before that, the mayor's job was rotated among council members.
Last year, Roberts, a pro-development mayor, was appointed to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's board of directors, representing northern Los Angeles County.
Councilmen Jeffra, a retired sheriff's deputy, and Visokey, an aerospace worker, ran unopposed.
Turnout was light in both cities. Only 9.2% of Lancaster's 48,913 registered voters cast ballots. In Santa Clarita, early returns showed only 7.2% of the city's 74,202 voters casting ballots Tuesday.
* COUNTYWIDE RESULTS: B9