"I may not have been able to break the glass ceiling, but we sure made a crack in it," Greuel, the city controller, told supporters gathered at her Van Nuys field office.
Greuel, who was heavily backed by labor unions in the expensive campaign, would have become L.A.’s first female mayor if elected.
"After going toe-to-toe with a person for two years and what seems like 5,000 debates, you really get to know a person," she said, referring to Garcetti, a three-term L.A. city councilman. "Congratulations, I sincerely wish you the best.”
She delivered her concession speech Wednesday in a room that was largely empty, except for a swarm of media. In preceding days it had been a center of frenetic campaigning as volunteers worked the phones and prepared to walk precincts for votes.
Campaign offices can be closed down quickly, and the Greuel staff was expected turn over the keys by the end of the day.
Festive blue and green streamers framed walls covered with last-minute directives, photos of supporters and dozens of Post-It notes with names and numbers to call.
Garcetti's relentless campaigning paid off as he decisively won a hard-fought race to become Los Angeles' next mayor, scoring well with voters across the sprawling city and even challenging Greuel on her home turf in the San Fernando Valley.
Garcetti's eight-point margin ended speculation that the race was so tight that a winner might not be known for weeks. Some mail-in ballots must still be counted, but they are not expected to significantly change the results.
“We have sent a message tonight and that message is that L.A. is ready to put the recession in the rear-view mirror and to become the city of opportunity that I grew up in once again,” Garcetti said early Wednesday in thanking his supporters.
Turnout was about 19%, a bit higher than the initial numbers in the March primary election, but still among the lowest on record. About 345,000 ballots were cast in city races.
The election also ended the one-term tenure of City Atty. Carmen Trutanich, who was soundly beaten by former Assemblyman Mike Feuer, and swept Ron Galperin, a little-known Century City lawyer, to victory as the city's next controller.