About 5,100 ballots still need to be tallied from Tuesday’s 32nd Senate District special election, in which Democrat Vanessa Delgado is holding a narrow lead over Republican Rita Topalian, the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office announced Wednesday.
With all precincts reporting Tuesday night, Delgado — the mayor of Montebello — had 21,899 votes, giving her a 1,711-vote advantage over Topalian, who had 20,188 votes.
The pair are vying to serve out the term of Artesia Democrat Tony Mendoza, who resigned amid sexual harassment allegations that he has vehemently denied. The term ends Dec. 3.
According to the county, an estimated 1,200 provisional ballots still need to be counted, along with 3,650 vote-by-mail ballots and 260 miscellaneous ballots, including write-ins, damaged ballots or ballots that need additional review.
An update of the vote count is expected to be released Friday. The registrar’s office expects to certify the results by Aug. 16, with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors tentatively scheduled to declare the results official on Aug. 21.
Voters in the district will cast ballots again in November to choose a representative for the new term that begins in January. Topalian is on that ballot, but Delgado is not. Despite finishing second in the June primary to fill out the balance of Mendoza’s current term, Delgado finished third in essentially the same field of candidates on the same ballot to claim the new term in January. Instead, Topalian will square off in that race with Democrat Bob Archuleta.
Although she might only represent the district for a short period of time, Delgado said she wants to ensure the seat remains in the hands of a Democrat.
“I look forward to serving Senate District 32 no matter the length of the term,” she told City News Service.
The Montebello City Attorney’s Office and the state Attorney General’s Office are still reviewing whether she will have to resign as mayor if she wins the Senate race, but she expects to have a definitive answer in a matter of days.
“Though my term will be short, I intend to make the most of it by working on legislation that addresses California’s affordable housing crisis and ensuring that our district gets its fair share of resources,” Delgado said. “… I am committed to the democratic ideals that this country was founded on.”
Democrats are anxious to hold onto the seat because it would push them closer to a supermajority in the Senate.
Topalian has run twice for the state Assembly, in 2004 and 2104. She and her husband have lived in the Whittier area for about three decades.
On her campaign website, she says her priorities include repealing the recent statewide gas tax, protecting Proposition 13 and working “to strengthen and improve our education system to ensure that it provides the very best to the young minds and future voters of California.”
Topalian told CNS she has “integrity” and “standards” and “will always do what is right for California and not what is best for the political party.”
“I have been a community volunteer in Whittier for more than 30 years,” she told CNS. “I also worked for retired state Sen. Bob Margett for 14 years. I know what the job is about, and I think I can represent the residents of this district better than any of the other candidates.”
The district includes Artesia, Bellflower, Buena Park, Cerritos, Commerce, Downey, Hacienda Heights, Hawaiian Gardens, La Habra Heights, La Mirada, Lakewood, Los Nietos, Montebello, Norwalk, Pico Rivera, Rose Hills, Santa Fe Springs, South Whittier and Whittier.