Gil Cedillo

Gil Cedillo received 52.4% of the vote in Tuesday's election.  

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — There’s going to be a changing of the guard in the First Council District.

Gil Cedillo, who has spent much of the past 15 years in Sacramento serving in the State Senate and Assembly, yesterday won the election for the council seat that includes City West and Chinatown. He defeated Jose Gardea, who has spent the last 12 years as chief of staff to termed out Councilman Ed Reyes.

Cedillo received 8,543 votes, or 52.4% of the ballots cast. Cedillo earned 7,747 votes, giving him 47.6 of the tally (some absentee and provisional votes remain to be counted).

Cedillo will be sworn in on July 1.

The campaign was frequently bitter, with both sides sending out harsh and sometimes personal attack mailers. Cedillo regularly accused Gardea of being a failure during his time as chief of staff in Reyes' office. Gardea charged that Cedillo was a Sacramento politician being bankrolled by businesses such as Chevron and Wal-Mart.

The race nearly ended in March. During the primary, Cedillo received 49.3% of the vote, falling just short of the majority needed to win outright.

In the runoff, the two candidates were comparable on the fundraising front. In the time since the runoff Cedillo raised $191,000. Gardea pulled in $180,000.

However, Cedillo enjoyed a huge advantage in spending by outside parties. Although the maximum contribution allowed to a candidate is $1,300, individuals, businesses and organizations can spend an unlimited amount in “independent expenditures” as long as they do not coordinate with the campaign.

In the last two months, groups including the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union spent more than $425,000 for Cedillo. By contrast, $53,000 was spent supporting Gardea’s campaign.

The First District runs from MacArthur Park over to City West and curves up through Chinatown. It then extends into communities in Northeast L.A. such as Glassell Park and Mt. Washington.

Contact Jon Regardie at regardie@downtownnews.com.

Copyright 2013 Los Angeles Downtown News.