LOS ANGELES (AP) — City Councilman Eric Garcetti defeated Controller Wendy Greuel to become next mayor of Los Angeles after a caustic campaign in which he depicted his fellow Democrat as a pawn of powerful labor bosses.
With all precincts reporting Wednesday, Garcetti had 54 percent of the votes against Greuel, who notched 46 percent.
Garcetti sent out a tweet thanking voters and saying he's honored to lead the nation's second-largest city. In a statement, outgoing Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Garcetti would "guide our city into its bright future. I know I am leaving Los Angeles in good hands."
Garcetti, 42, promised voters to increase jobs and patch up the city's battered streets and sidewalks. He will be the city's first elected Jewish mayor when he takes office July 1.
Garcetti shares a Latino heritage and a command of Spanish with Villaraigosa — he has Italian and Mexican roots from his father. But Garcetti has a far different resume and style than the exiting mayor, the product of a broken home from the tough streets east of downtown, with an outsized personality and never-quit smile.
Garcetti is the son of a former district attorney who grew up in the San Fernando Valley's tony Encino enclave, attended Columbia University and enjoys playing jazz piano. During the campaign, he often envisioned a gentler Los Angeles in which kids biked around neighborhoods and enjoyed playing baseball and eating ice cream.
Despite record spending, turnout was sluggish after a campaign that centered on the city's ailing economy and the influence of municipal unions.
A steady stream of negative advertising from the campaigns and outside groups helped obscure the candidates' promises about free-flowing traffic, new jobs and better schools.
The lack of public interest ran counter to what's at stake.
A key issue has been the city's shaky $7.7 billion budget and the prospect of living with less. Spending is projected to outpace revenue for years, and rising pension and retiree health care bills for municipal workers threaten money that could otherwise go to libraries, tree-trimming and street repairs.
Villaraigosa urged his successor to try to block a 5.5 percent pay increase for civilian employees, while new contracts are on the horizon.
Garcetti's commercials labeled Greuel "DWP's mayor," a reference to the Department of Water and Power, whose workers financed ads to try to install her at City Hall. He argued she lacked the independence to help the city break out of a fiscal straight jacket.
"We faced some powerful forces in this race. We didn't have the most money," Garcetti told supporters Tuesday. "But we had something more important. We had a people-powered campaign and we had a commitment with that people power to let the voters of Los Angeles choose the next mayor, not any power brokers."
Greuel and Garcetti emerged from a March primary in which no candidate secured the majority needed to win outright, leading to Tuesday's runoff. More than $30 million was spent overall in the mayoral contest.