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LOS ANGELES-Local officials this morning say that neither of the two top vote-getters in yesterday’s special City Council election received at least 50% of the popular vote, setting up a March runoff to determine who will represent one of the city’s most promising districts for development.

The runoff in the city’s 2nd District will pit Assemblyman Tony Cardenas against Wendy Greuel, an executive at entertainment conglomerate DreamsWorks SKG. Both are Democrats, but each fought hard during the campaign to let voters know about their differing views on several key issues.

Cardenas, 38, is running for the City Council because term limits prevented him from running for the State Assembly in Sacramento again. He is backed by powerful City Council President Alex Padilla, the LA County Federation of Labor, and some well-heeled owners of Indian casinos. Cardenas also has the official endorsement of the Democratic Party, and well as some unions that represent police and firefighters.

Greuel, 40, is a former HUD executive who also spent several years working as an aide to former Mayor Tom Bradley. She received much of her backing from the region’s all-important entertainment industry—DreamWorks executive Steven Spielberg and his partners personally threw a star-studded fundraiser for her—and also had the endorsement of a majority of the City Council. Other supporters included groups ranging from the LA Area Chamber of Commerce and Sheriff Lee Baca to the Sierra Club.

The 2nd District covers much of the East San Fernando Valley, which is dotted by many upscale neighborhoods coveted by developers and an equal number of older areas that are ripe for redevelopment. The district includes Van Nuys, North Hollywood, Studio City and Sunland Tujunga.

The special election was required because the area’s longtime councilman, Joel Wachs, retired from politics after an unsuccessful run for mayor. In perhaps the most contentious issue in the race, Cardenas said he was flatly opposed to efforts by some San Fernando Valley residents to split away from Los Angeles and form their own city. Greuel said she doesn’t want the city to break up either, but that she would like to see more studies about the financial implications of a split and related issues before making up her mind.

City officials say Cardenas garnered 47.6% of yesterday’s vote, while Greuel won 42.7%. Van Nuys businessman James Cordaro, the only Republican in the race, won 9.7%.

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