By Gary Kohatsu
As of Monday, Nov. 9, with hundreds of thousands of ballots remaining to be counted in Los Angeles County, many political incumbents who represent Gardena could either claim victory or take comfort that they will likely return for another term in the Nov. 3, 2020 General Elections.
Don Dear, Gardena’s longest serving active official who was seeking a 6th term on the West Basin Municipal Water Board, held a commanding lead on his closest challenger with 21,641 votes or 38. 18% of the counted ballots by the weekend. Challengers Eva Rivera, an educator, garnered 16,769 votes or 29.58%, Hugo Rojas at 14,303 votes and 25.23% in third and George Louie Gutierrez in fourth with 3,970 votes, good for 7.00%, based on early returns.
With a lead of nearly 4,900 votes, Dear said he felt comfortable that he would return as WBMWD Division 5 director.
“I am pleased,” Dear said by phone this week. “As the incumbent in this race, that’s a big advantage. I feel pretty good about my (4,800-plus vote) lead.”
He said he did not spend a lot money on his campaign this year compared to at least one opponent, but acknowledged that he had good support from Gardena voters. Rojas, who campaigned vigorously, trailed in third. He is a school board member for Centinela Valley Union High School District.
Dear, 80, was first elected to the board in 2000, after nearly 30 years as a Gardena councilman and mayor. He was a teacher at Stephen White Middle School for 38 years and is an alumnus of Gardena High School.
Division 5 represents Gardena, Hawthorne, Lawndale and unincorporated Los Angeles County areas of El Camino Village.
In other races important to Gardena, Rep. Maxine Waters was dominating challenger Joe Collins III 72% to 28% for the 43rd Congressional District; Gardena Sen. Steve Bradford was well ahead of challenger Anthony Perry, 73% to 27%, for the State Senate, District 35 race; and incumbent Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi led challenger Arthur Schaper, 63% to 37% in Assembly District 66.
Holly Mitchell claimed a 61% of the votes lead against Herb Wesson’s 39% in the important County Supervisor, 2nd District race. This seat was vacated by Mark Ridley-Thomas, who was termed out.
The 2020 election marked the first time in California history that every registered voter received a mail-in ballot. Election officials, however, noted that counting all of these ballots would require more time than in past elections.
The county must still count some ballots, including provisional ones and vote-by-mail ones that arrived after election day. Any official results likely won’t come for weeks.