LOS ANGELES — Three-term City Councilman Eric Garcetti will replace termed-out Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on July 1st following a hotly-contested run-off election.

Garcetti defeated City Controller Wendy Greuel by 54% to 46% in Tuesday’s runoff. Both candidates are Democrats.

The election that heralded a new mayor after eight years under Villaraigosa also resulted in the turnover of roughly half of the Los Angeles City Council.

Garcetti remained in a back room with supporters during most of an election night party held Tuesday night at the Palladium, a Hollywood night club.

Early election totals were showing Greuel with a slight lead, but at 11:30 p.m. with 14% of votes tallied, Garcetti felt confident enough to make a victory speech to supporters.

“The results aren’t all in, but this is shaping up to be a good night,” Garcetti said. “Since the beginning of the night, we have swung 6 points ahead, if that holds true on July 1, I will be working as mayor to balance the budget and make the quality of life better for all Angelenos.”

He added that the city can draw on some of the most talented and diverse human beings on the face of the earth.

“If you throw in some good weather, we are poised for a comeback,” Garcetti said. “It is a great city where will we not just celebrate those people who are already on the peak of the mountain, but those who are struggling up the mountain.”

In the same speech, Garcetti also thanked Greuel for her dedication to public service.

“Wendy and I both love L.A.,” Garcetti said.

Had she been elected, Greuel would have been the first female mayor.

Most of the city council endorsed Garcetti for mayor. Greuel scored endorsements from former President Bill Clinton and Magic Johnson. She was criticized during the campaign for her endorsement by the city union representing Los Angeles Department of Water and Power workers.

Turnout was 19.2% of registered voters, according to preliminary unofficial results.

As it stands, Cindy Montanez, elected last night with 43% of the vote to fill a central San Fernando Valley council seat, will be the lone woman serving on the 15-member council. Montanez will serve out the remaining two years in a seat vacated by Tony Cardenas, who was elected to Congress last year.

Garcetti and Greuel grew up in the San Fernando Valley. After seven years representing a northeast segment of the San Fernando Valley, Greuel was elected to the city controller position in 2009. She worked as an aide to former mayor Tom Bradley early in her career and then for the Clinton administration.

Cameron Church, a Garcetti volunteer, who was congratulating other volunteers for having their hard work pay off, said the campaign’s statisticians had determined at the point that Garcetti gave his speech that he had enough of a lead that Greuel would not be able to pull ahead.

The Echo Park resident said while he thought both Garcetti and Greuel were good leaders that he has seen the changes wrought by Garcetti in his neighborhood, which is part of his council district.

He threw his support behind Garcetti viewing the newly-elected mayor as the candidate with a stronger track record. He was also disappointed by what he saw as the negative tone of Greuel’s campaign.

Greuel’s campaign could not be reached for comment Wednesday morning, but according to news reports, she called Garcetti early Wednesday morning to concede defeat.

“I think it’s a great night for the future of Los Angeles as we bring on a young man dedicated to the city,” City Councilman Bernard Parks said last night as he was leaving Garcetti’s election night party. “We elected a leader who is innovative and who has avoided being backed by special interests. We clearly elected the right person to lead the city of Los Angeles.”

Several top city positions and council seats were decided in Tuesday night’s run-off election marking a massive shift in the city’s leadership. State legislator Mike Feuer defeated incumbent Carmen Trutanich 62% to 38% for city attorney. Ron Galperin beat Dennis Zine for city controller 56% to 44%.

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