Former Mayor Jill Hardy led all candidates for Huntington Beach City Council as of Wednesday morning, with Jim Katapodis and former Mayor Dave Sullivan close behind and incumbent Devin Dwyer a distant fifth.
The results, which the Orange County Registrar of Voters called unofficial, also showed Measure Z, the controversial effort to repeal a property tax that helps to fund city employees' pensions, losing by a slim margin of 50.4%.
With all the city's 158 precincts having reported, Hardy held 14% of the vote, with 12.9% for Katapodis and 12.6% for Sullivan. Planning Commissioner Barbara Delgleize placed fourth with 12.5%, trailing Sullivan by less than 300 votes, while Dwyer stood with 9.9%.
There are three open seats on the dais this year, including Dwyer's.
Katapodis, a longtime Los Angeles Police Department sergeant and head of Huntington Beach's 9/11 Memorial Committee, ran unsuccessfully in 2010. Along with Hardy and William "Billy" O'Connell, he was endorsed in September by the city's fire and police associations, which have often backed winning candidates in recent years.
O'Connell, as of Wednesday morning, placed seventh with 8.9% of the vote. The Colette's Children's Home founder also ran unsuccessfully two years ago.
Despite Dwyer's weak finish, voters favored council experience with Hardy and Sullivan. The former, a Marina High School math teacher, served on the dais from 2002 to 2010 and ran again this year after being termed out. Sullivan has spent 12 years on the council, from 1992 to 2000 and from 2002 to 2006.
Hardy and Sullivan could not be reached Wednesday morning. Katapodis, the only finisher in the top six never to have served on the City Council or Planning Commission, attributed his victory to key endorsements and also to his many hours meeting voters in person.
"It's all about knocking on doors," he said. "It's all about talking to people."
Rounding out the field were Planning Commissioner Erik Peterson in sixth with 9.3%, Planning Commissioner Tim Ryan in eighth with 7.4%, lawyer Alex Polsky in ninth with 4%, Realtor Bruce Brandt in 10th with 3.6%, door repairman Tony James Carter in 11th with 3% and photographer Bob Wentzel in 12th with 1.9%.
City Clerk Joan Flynn and Treasurer Alisa Cutchen both reclaimed their seats unopposed.
Huntington Beach Downtown Residents Assn. leader Kim Kramer, whose group endorsed the three leading candidates, applauded the results Wednesday.
"The election of HBDRA-endorsed candidates Hardy, Katapodis and Sullivan reflects a positive change in the direction of our city," he wrote in an email. "For too long, our elected council majority has ignored the concerns of the community. The voters responded on Nov. 6 with their support for change and punctuated it with their lack of support for the status quo."
Kramer's group also opposed Measure Z.
Mayor Don Hansen, who helped place the measure on the ballot, said he was still hopeful that subsequent vote counts would favor it.
"I think the margin on Measure Z is too close to call," he said. "If I were on the other side of the equation right now, I'd be saying the same thing."
Congress, Assembly races
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, who has served more than two decades in Congress, defeated Democrat Ron Varasteh for the newly aligned 48th district, taking 61.6%.
In Assembly races for a pair newly aligned districts, the leaders held significant margins Wednesday: Huntington Beach resident and businessman Travis Allen with 55.7% over Troy Edgar in the 72nd, Allan Mansoor with 57.3% over Bob Rush in the 74th.
Allen, reached Wednesday morning, expressed gratitude to his campaign team.
"It's just an incredible effort," he said. "It was eight months of strong campaigning. It was a lot of work, and that work energized us going forward to represent the district in the next 12 years.
"I just think voters responded to our message. Our No. 1 priority is getting California's economy back on track, and I'm ready to get started."