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Measure J transit tax near approval

ELECTION 2012

L.A. County measure requiring porn actors to wear condoms leads in early returns.

November 07, 2012|Ari Bloomekatz and Rong-Gong Lin II

Los Angeles County voters were close to approving a three-decade extension of a transportation sales tax Tuesday night, and a health measure requiring adult film actors to wear condoms was way ahead in early returns.

An advisory vote on whether the county assessor should be appointed -- a byproduct of the corruption case pending against elected Assessor John Noguez -- was far behind. A tax on sugary drinks in El Monte was also losing, with Mayor Andre Quintero calling the margin "insurmountable."

The longtime Latino mayor of Santa Ana in Orange County, meanwhile, appeared easily headed toward a 10th term in office, and neighboring Westminster was on the way to electing its first Vietnamese American mayor.

The transit initiative, Measure J, asked voters to extend an existing 30-year half-cent sales tax for another 30 years until 2069. The money, administered by the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, could be used to accelerate public transit projects. The measure needs a two-thirds majority to pass.

"We are right where we need to be and the numbers look very good," said Matt Szabo, executive director of the Yes on Measure J campaign.

Supporters -- a well-funded cadre of civic leaders, businesses and union members -- say Measure J work would bring much-needed jobs to the county. The opposition, made up of a handful of grass-roots groups and a few elected officials, say Metro has already focused too much on rail projects at the expense of the bus system.

The Measure B health law would require pornographic film actors to wear condoms while shooting in L.A. County. Supporters cast it as a way to protect worker safety. But the lucrative adult film industry says it should be trusted to police itself. Industry leaders also say porn actors are regularly tested for diseases.

"This was just common sense to the vast majority of the voters," said Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which sponsored the measure. "People just understood this was a health, safety and fairness issue."

Measure A arose out of the corruption and bribery probe of Noguez, whose office is responsible for determining property taxes on more than 2 million homes and businesses.

Proponents say an appointed position would enable the assessor to focus on his job rather than raising funds for reelection. But opponents say it wouldn't necessarily prevent corruption. Tuesday's vote was only advisory; the county charter and the state Constitution would have to be amended to make the change.

The soda measure in El Monte would add a tax on sodas and other sugary drinks. Quintero, Measure H's leading supporter, said it would stabilize city finances and help combat a growing obesity problem. An opposition group funded by the American Beverage Assn. far outspent Quintero's side.

In San Bernardino County, where two county supervisors and a former supervisor have been facing criminal charges since 2009, voters were deciding on a measure that could turn serving on the Board of Supervisors into a part-time job and reduce supervisors' compensation.

In Santa Ana, Miguel Pulido faced his biggest challenger since becoming the city's first Latino mayor in 1994. His main opponent, Councilman David Benavides, garnered pivotal endorsements, notably from the local county labor federation and the city's police union.

Nearby in Westminster, the home of tens of thousands of Vietnamese immigrants, voters were deciding whether to elect Tri Ta as their first Vietnamese American mayor and the second in the state. Ta, 39, a magazine editor and the city's mayor pro tem, has served on the City Council for six years.

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ari.bloomekatz@latimes.com

ron.lin@latimes.com

Times staff writers Anna Gorman, Anh Do, Nicole Santa Cruz, Ruben Vives, Sam Allen and Phil Willon contributed to this report.

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