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Beverly O’Neill Wins Calif. Race

June 5, 2002

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LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) _ A term-limited mayor forced to run as a write-in candidate declared victory Wednesday in her bid for a third term as head of California’s fifth-largest city.

Mayor Beverly O’Neill was one of three candidates in the race, but only Vice Mayor Dan Baker’s name appeared on the ballot Tuesday. Although O’Neill won the April primary, her name was banned from the ballot by a term-limits amendment voters added to the City Charter in 1992.

O’Neill, 71, was allowed to seek a third term through a charter provision allowing ``any qualified candidate″ to run a write-in campaign.

With all precincts reporting but 3,000 absentee ballots uncounted, O’Neill led with 16,469 votes to Baker’s 12,702. Businessman Norm Ryan was trailing with 6,010 votes.

Baker called the mayor’s office Wednesday morning to concede the election, said Mark Taylor, his spokesman.

Baker advanced to Tuesday’s runoff when neither he nor O’Neill got a majority of primary votes. Ryan, who finished third in the seven-candidate primary, began a write-in campaign when he failed in court to have his name included on Tuesday’s ballot.

O’Neill said she supports term limits but needed more time to turn around a city struggling to recover from a downturn in the aerospace industry and a Navy base closure that cost the city 50,000 jobs.

The largely working class city is home to one of the world’s busiest ports, as well as a major tourist attraction in the Queen Mary.

If Baker were elected mayor of the city of 461,000, Long Beach would become the nation’s largest municipality with an openly gay mayor.

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