Obagi squeaks past Gran; Brand, Loewenstein, Nehrenheim cruise to victory in Redondo Beach elections
by Kevin Cody
Despite leading by 75 votes, or 8 percent on election night, Redondo Beach Fourth District City Council incumbent John Gran has been unseated by challenger Zein Obagi.
Obagi led by 33 votes, or just over 1 percent when City Clerk Eleanor Manzano announced, Friday afternoon, that her office had completed counting ballots for the March 2, all mail-in election.
“My congratulations to the Mayor,” Gran said after the results were announced. Gran attributed his loss to the Mayor Bill Brand’s coattails. Brand endorsed Obagi and was reelected with 68 percent of the vote, despite three opponents. First District Councilman Nils Nehrenheim and Second District Councilman Todd Loewenstein also endorsed Obagi and were also easily reelected.
Lowenstein, who faced two challengers, received 70 percent of the District 2 vote.
Nehrenheim faced one challenger and received 61 percent of the District 1 vote.
City Attorney Mike Webb was reelected for a fourth term. He received 7,680 votes or 58 percent . His sole opponent, Harden Sooper, received 5,486 votes.
Gran, along with District 5 Councilwoman Laura Emdee and District 3 Councilman Christian Horwath, who were not up for reelection, often formed a three-member voting bloc that frustrated some of Brand’s efforts.
“Finally, after 20 years of fighting overdevelopment the gridlock is broken,” Brand said following Friday’s final vote count. “Now we can focus on revitalizing without supersizing areas like Artesia Boulevard and King Harbor.”
Obagi attributed his success to a grassroots campaign that included door knocking; social media videos; and distributing campaign masks to familiarize voters with his name. Obagi said his supporters made 5,500 phone calls to voters in the five days leading up to election day.
Throughout his campaign Obagi contended North Redondo was the city’s neglected stepchild. Following Friday’s final count, Obagi said his three focuses will be on making Artesia Boulevard and Grand Avenue safer by slowing traffic; reducing the parking requirement for North Redondo businesses, so businesses can expand without looking like strip malls; and bringing a community garden to North Redondo.
Obagi said he’d like Artesia Boulevard to be as pedestrian friendly as Redondo Riviera Village, with outdoor dining decks. He also said he wants the bike path extended to the beach.
“The Mayor wanted a team, and he got what he wanted. I disagree with him on many things, but my hats off to him,” Gran said on Friday.
Gran said he took pride in having improved the landscaping along Artesia Boulevard, helping negotiate a redevelopment agreement with The Galleria, and having helped the city get a $1.1 million County Measure R grant for expanding bike paths in North Redondo.
Gran said he plans to remain active in civic groups and “to make my voice heard on issues involving Artesia and Aviation Boulevard and The Galleria.” ER
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