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Harris-Dawson wins 8th Council District seat; Wesson re-elected

LOS ANGELES — Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who took over the leadership of South Los Angeles’ Community Coalition after its founder, Karen Bass, was elected to the state Assembly more than a decade ago, followed in his mentor’s political footsteps March 3 when he was elected to the Los Angeles City Council.

Harris-Dawson won the election to replace Bernard Parks in the 8th Council District against three challengers, avoiding a May 19 runoff by receiving more than 61 percent of the vote. Parks could not seek re-election because of the city’s term limit laws.

Robert Cole finished a distant second to Harris-Dawson with almost 15 percent of the vote. Forescee Hogan-Rowles, who almost forced Parks into a runoff four years ago, was third with 12.7 percent of the vote and Bobbie Jean Anderson, who was endorsed by Parks, received 11.2 percent of the vote.

In the 10th Council District City Council President Herb Wesson was easily re-elected to his third term, receiving 63.5 percent of the vote. Koreatown activist Grace Yoo, who last clashed with Wesson during contentious proceedings to redraw district lines in the Koreatown area, finished second with 29.5 percent of the vote. Delaney “Doc” Smith received seven percent of the vote.

“This victory belongs to thousands of volunteers,” Harris-Dawson said in a statement. “The volunteers that hosted house meetings, knocked on doors and called voters over the last 18 months. Residents won this election and residents will help us win jobs with a living wage and our fair share of city services.”

Harris-Dawson attended the City Council meeting the day after his election, meeting with Mayor Eric Garcetti and greeting his new colleagues.

“Now I have the opportunity to immerse myself on the city budget and begin making plans to deliver on the issues that resonated in my campaign,” Harris-Dawson said. “I want to be prepared to hit the ground running, to increase jobs, clean up blighted commercial corridors and provide excellent city services that residents deserve. Residents in South L.A. and throughout the city will benefit from having unified leadership on the council.”

Harris-Dawson and Wesson will both serve 5 1/2-year terms instead of the normal four-year council terms after voters approved Charter Amendments 1 and 2 in the voting. The measures will move city elections from March and May of odd-numbered years to June and November of even-numbered years, beginning in 2020.

The measures were put on the ballot in hopes the move would increase voter turnout, which was again dismal.

The preliminary turnout for the primary election was 8.6 percent, although the figure is expected to rise as ballot-counting continues, the City Clerk’s Office said.

The clerk’s office still needs to count 46,412 outstanding provisional ballots, vote-by-mail ballots turned in at the last minute and questioned ballots.

The city has until March 24 to certify the results as official.

Also on the ballot was the District 1 seat on the Los Angeles school board, but there was little drama in that race.

George McKenna, who won a special election last August to fill the seat vacated by the death of Marquerite LaMotte in December 2013, was unopposed and will serve a full term of office.