Hildy Stern Manhattan Beach City Council March 2019

Hildy Stern looks over the latest city council returns from her home in Manhattan Beach on Friday, March 8, 2019. (Photo courtesy Amy Howorth)

Hildy Stern, a political newcomer and former Justice Department trial lawyer, slightly increased her lead for the second-and-final open seat on the Manhattan Beach City Council, according to new election results released Friday afternoon. 

Suzanne Hadley, another political upstart—though a 22-year Manhattan Beach resident—maintained her hold on first place in the seven-candidate race, but with a slightly lower percent of the vote, about 25 percent. Hadley will likely win a council seat.

But that second spot is still uncertain.

At the end of Election Night, on Tuesday, March 5, Stern was in a battle for the second spot with businessman Joe Franklin. Only 37 votes separated the two—and they were essentially tied in percentage of votes, with about 18 percent each. 

The vote-by-mail ballots that arrived before Tuesday and ballots cast at the polls were tallied by the end of Election Night. But the Los Angeles County Registrar still needs to count mail-in ballots that arrived between Tuesday and Friday; that process will likely continue until at least next week, with updates on the results coming every couple of days. 

The registrar is aiming to certify the election by March 22, spokesman Mike Sanchez has said. 

Stern leads Franklin by 158 votes, as of 2:05 p.m. Friday, the first day the registrar has updated the results since Election night. 

Franklin, meanwhile, has a more than 200 vote lead on the next two candidates, former Councilmen Mark Burton and Wayne Powell. 

Burton, in fourth place, and fifth-place Powell are crammed together, with 44 votes separating the two. 

In the last two spots, well behind the front-runners, are candidates Brian Withers and Joseph Ungoco, with 5 and 3 percent of votes, respectively. 

Contact Lisa Jacobs lisa.jacobs@TBRnews.com or follow her on Twitter @lisaannjacobs.

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