The most recent election returns from Los Angeles County were posted on Friday and the news is very good! John Mirisch and councilmember-elect Robert Wunderlich will join Lili Bosse at the Council dais. That’s two-thirds of our endorsement slate!
According to updated poll numbers the winners are….
Trailing by almost 40 votes is current councilmember (and would-be Mayor) Nancy Krasne. She earned 1,915 votes despite a late campaign reorganization to mobilize tenants. Not to mention a flood of cash from property interests in the last two weeks of the campaign!
This is precisely the outcome we wanted from this election: a relatively pro-resident City Council (at least a 3-2 majority) and Lili Bosse as our next Mayor. This is about as good a position as we could expect. Councilmember-elect Lester Friedman we know well as a longtime Transportation & Parking commissioner. We have found him to be a judicious voice on that panel and an amiable guy.
Friedman did not make our slate only because we didn’t get a pro-tenant vibe from comments about the imprudence of the rent stabilization urgency ordinances in January and February. The jury is out and we have every expectation he will be a valuable addition to the Council.
Our efforts to get out the vote made a difference! Without the help of a dozen Alliance supporters who hit the sidewalks (and some who picked up the phone to dial voters) we would have seen a different outcome. Nancy Krasne had the name recognition. She would have easily finished second or third in the race and would be congratulating her as our new mayor right now. We might have been looking to a Council minority to protect tenants on crucial issues, though.
Assessing Our Impact
One of the challenges to securing better protections for residents who rent in Beverly Hills is simply getting our community to the polls. It is very difficult to motivate tenants at the same rate, say, as older residents and families with kids in the schools. Seniors and those with a vested interest in education turn out. Tenants, most of us, do not.
We can’t know how much of a difference our slate and election day push made for a few reasons:
First, low turnout overall suggests an electorate that was very difficult to motivate. Turnout has been on the decline for decades in Beverly Hills. This election was no different. In low-turnout elections a marginal interest like tenant protections can suffer or can garner outsized gains. But only if we make it to the polls!
Second, it is always a challenge to explain the complex issues that comprise rent stabilization. The best slogan so far is, “The rent is too damned high!” It resonated in New York where it was embraced by a candidate (and much of the city) but it didn’t swing the election. It is difficult to get tenant protections to resonate. Yes, the rent is too damned high. After that, though, it’s tough for a candidate to build a campaign around the issue.
Third, this was a County-consolidated election which changed-up the polling. There were fewer polling places; and they were different than in the past. It confused some voters on election day. And the change means we can’t analyze returns with the same level of specificity as in the past.
And fourth, the race was dynamic right until the end. Every candidate worked the phones through election day, but Nancy Krasne pulled out the stops. Once we challenged her claim to be the renters’ champion, she completely re-branded her campaign website (with a “fighting for renter’s [sic] rights” message). She spent thousands to get pro-renter flyers into household mailboxes. Krasne even re-labeled a wine and cheese reception as a renter-rights organizing event. My hat is off to the incumbent candidate but it didn’t persuade enough tenants to make up her 40 vote deficit.