Today's Voting: More Los Angeles City election coverage
The parking lot was filling up this morning at Wilshire United Methodist Church in Hancock Park, which is serving as a city polling place.
But those pulling in weren't voters. They were actors and crew preparing to film the ABC show "Revenge."
This is L.A., after all, where entertainment doesn't stop for democracy.
Aaron Williams, a polling clerk, said the polls were off to the slowest start he'd ever seen. Unlike in past years, no one was waiting to get in when the doors opened at 7 a.m.
Outgoing Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was the third voter of the morning and found himself nearly alone inside while filling out his ballot. Afterward, he encouraged people to vote, saying he was disappointed by reports of near-empty polling places.
It was the first time in 12 years Villaraigosa didn't vote for himself for mayor. He wasn't saying who he did pick, but revealed some of his other preferences.
The outgoing mayor said he supported Mónica Garcia, Kate Anderson and Antonio Sanchez for the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education.
He also voted for the Measure A sales tax hike because it will beef up the city's reserves. That put him in opposition to a couple of other voters.
Rudolph Gintel, 65, who owns a retail business, called the tax increase "ludicrous."
"It's destroying the bricks-and-mortar businesses in the city," he said, adding his sales have already fallen 20 to 30 percent recently.
Larry Rosow, 58, called the tax "totally regressive."
"It hurts everybody," he said. "What a bad idea."
Both men said they voted for talk radio host and attorney Kevin James for mayor, with Gintel saying he wanted an outsider because insiders had created too many entitlements.
"I'm very dissatisfied with what's happening at City Hall for the last number of years," Gintel said.
Voters are not only casting ballots for mayor and the LAUSD board, but also for city attorney, city controller, City Council, the Los Angeles Community College District, the Measure A sales tax hike and the Measure B police/fire pension reform.
Local political watchers, however, have called this year's mayoral primary a lackluster election. Part of the reason could be that three of the five candidates are City Hall insiders.
In a poll released Sunday, half of all voters who have picked City Councilman Eric Garcetti and City Controller Wendy Greuel said they may change their minds. Overall, 14 percent of likely voters hadn't decided who to vote for. Besides James, the field also includes City Councilwoman Jan Perry and tech executive Emanuel Pleitez.
Garcetti and Greuel led in the USC/Los Angeles Times poll, but no single top candidate has emerged decisively as a favorite, making much of Election Day today all about voter turnout. With the exception of James, who has a core Republican base, none of the candidates has built up a solid base with specific groups, such as Latino voters, that could propel them to a clear victory.
While the city does not make official voter turnout predictions, the last two mayoral votes have had relatively low turnout.
When Villaraigosa first sought the post in 2005, nearly 29 percent of registered voters turned out. By 2009, when he sought re-election against an underfunded challenger, about 17 percent of the 1.6 million registered voters cast a ballot.
As he prepares to leave office, Villaraigosa said this morning people in L.A. should be more appreciative of the progress the city has made.
"This is a great city, and we need to start believing in it," he said. "There's a lot to celebrate in this town."
He pointed to the vibrancy of Hollywood and downtown and successes such as a huge reduction in the city's structural deficit and historic lows in crime.
Villaraigosa said he'll work hard until he leaves office July 1, but isn't disappointed he can't run for a third term.
Asked how he wants his time as mayor be remembered, he said he'll let history write that judgment.