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Candidates, Ballot Measures Hold on to Leads as More Ballots Counted

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By Jorge Casuso

November 10, 2022 -- The frontrunners in Santa Monica races held on to -- and in some cases padded -- their leads after the LA County Registrar unexpectedly released a new batch of votes Thursday afternoon.

The new tallies -- released shortly before 4:30 p.m. -- did little to change the trajectory of any of the races and cemented the victory of all but a handful of candidates and measures in the November 8 General Election.

In the Race for three City Council seats, Rent Board Commissioner Caroline Torosis picked up another 1,343 votes, giving her a first-place total of 9,670 votes, while Jesse Zwick picked up 1,240, for a total of 8,561.

Councilmember Lana Negrete also solidified her third place finish by adding 866 votes. She now leads Natalya Zernitskaya by 563 votes.

Slow-growth activist Armen Melonians and Planning Commissioner Ellis Raskin remain within 100 votes of fourth place.

Tuesday's results render Torosis and Zwick's leads all but insurmountable and make it unlikely Negrete will lose her seat after weathering the most negative campaign in recent Santa Monica history.

Measure GS, Mayor Sue Himmelrich's transfer tax hike, is now 804 votes ahead, with 10,431 yes votes (52 percent) and 9,627 no votes (48 percent). It needs a simple majority for approval.

Meanwhile, Measure DT, Councilmember Phil Brock's more modest rival transfer tax measure is headed for a resounding defeat with only 34 percent of voters in support.

The race for four School Board seats also saw incumbents Laurie Lieberman and Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein, Malibu resident Stacy Rouse, and Alicia Mignano pad what were already insurmountable leads.

The same is true in the race for College Board, where incumbent Barry Snell put the final spot in the race for four open seats out of reach, leading the fifth place finisher by 7,618 votes.

Only the race for three seats on the Rent Control Board is less eventful, with the three lone candidates guaranteed a spot on the five-member board.

On the other hand, Measure SMC, the Santa Monica College bond, is in a nail-bitter, with 12,962 yes votes (55.2 percent) and 10,519 no votes (44.8).

The Measure -- which would fund improvements at Santa Monica College and help build housing for homeless and low-income students -- inched above the 55 percent threshold with Thursday's vote count.

All other local measures appear headed for easy wins by holding on to the same margins they held early Wednesday morning.

Measure CS -- which would generate $4.1 million a year by hiking the bed tax -- still leads by 73 percent of the vote.

Measure HMP -- which would generate between $3 million and $5 million a year by taxing licensed cannabis businesses -- is holding its two-thirds majority vote, far more than the simple majority needed.

Measure RC, which would drop the current annual rent adjustment for rent control units from 6 to 3 percent, is still on track to win with nearly 57 percent of the vote.

While Measure EM -- which gives the Rent Board authority to modify general rent increases during a state of emergency -- maintained its similar margin.

Measure PB, which expands eligibility requirements for members of the City’s Personnel Board, leads with 60 percent of the vote.

It is unclear how many ballots still need to be counted. The County Registrar is scheduled to release updated vote tallies again on Friday.

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