Carson Mayor Jim Dear trounced one of his strongest City Council rivals Tuesday to capture a third term after a contentious campaign.
With all 30 precincts reporting and vote-by-mail ballots counted, Dear collected 59.9 percent of the vote compared to 40.1 for his challenger, Councilwoman Lula Davis-Holmes.
Dear, who has been mayor for eight years, appears poised to recapture the City Council majority he had lost more than a year ago. That's because one of the council candidates he backed - Albert Robles - pushed out incumbent Councilwoman Julie Ruiz-Raber, who supported Davis-Holmes in Tuesday's election.
Robles had 23.8 percent of the vote compared to 21.6 for Ruiz-Raber in the eight-way race for two council seats. There are 1,679 provisional ballots that will be counted by March 19 and could potentially change the results for Robles and Ruiz-Raber.
Incumbent Councilman Mike Gipson, who is allied with Davis-Holmes, won a third term Tuesday, with 29.2 percent.
With Ruiz-Raber gone, Davis-Holmes and Gipson are expected to lose control of the council to Dear, Robles and Councilman Elito Santarina.
Measure M, which would have changed the directly elected mayor's seat to one appointed by the council on a rotating basis, was rejected by 83.2 percent of voters.
Robles, 44, is an attorney and president of the Water Replenishment Board of Southern California. He has recently come under scrutiny for his personal financial troubles because he did not pay state taxes and credit card bills.
If elected, he said he wants to work with foreign investors who want to immigrate to this country through a federal program that requires them to establish job-creating businesses here in exchange for a green card.
Ruiz-Raber, 71, is a retired executive assistant and part-time dance teacher who was seeking her third council term.
Gipson, 46, is a retired police officer and union representative with a long history of working for legislators. He currently works as the district director for state Board of Equalization Chairman Jerome Horton. Gipson said he looks forward to seeing large new developments come to the city in the next four years.
"I feel extremely blessed the residents of Carson have invested in me a level of faith to return me to the City Council for a third term," Gipson said from his campaign headquarters on Tuesday.
Though Davis-Holmes lost her bid for mayor, she will remain on the council for two years to serve out her third term.
Dear, 60, is a part-time substitute teacher who was elected to the City Council in 2001 and became mayor three years later.
Dear has called himself "the hardest working mayor in the history of the city." He has vowed to beef up sheriff's patrols in the city and see through the development of The Boulevards at South Bay, a massive mixed-use entertainment and retail project at the San Diego (405) Freeway and Avalon Boulevard.
Follow Sandy Mazza on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sandymazza