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Fight to Be London Mayor Rages as Britons Vote

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Millions of Britons voted on Thursday in elections for the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies, and to choose several mayors, many local councilors, and some police commissioners.

The voting is a big test for the opposition Labour Party and its left-wing leader,Jeremy Corbyn. The contests also come seven weeks before Britain votes onwhether the country should remain in the European Union.

Probably the most watched of the votes is the race for mayor of London. The capital has 8.6 million residents — the most since the start of World War II.

The two main candidates — Zac Goldsmith of the Conservative Party, and Sadiq Khan of the Labour Party — are competing to replace Mayor Boris Johnson, who is stepping down after two terms. Results will probably be known on Friday.

The mayor has substantial authority over areas including policing, transportation, housing, fire and emergency services, environment, culture and economic development.

Here is a look at the two favorites to succeed Mr. Johnson:

Zac Goldsmith

Childhood: Son of Sir James Goldsmith, a billionaire financier, magazine tycoon and politician, and Annabel Goldsmith, a socialite and nightclub promoter. Brother of Jemima Khan, a journalist and film producer. Brought up in Southwest London.

Age: 41

Education: Attended several private schools. Studied at Eton College, one of the nation’s most elite private boarding schools, but was expelled for drug use.

Current job:

Member of Parliament for Richmond Park, in Southwest London, since 2010.

Previous job: Environmental activist, proponent of local and organic food — though he was perhaps better known for his outgoing social life.

Family life: Married to Alice Rothschild, a member of the famous banking family; they have two children. (Mr. Goldsmith’s brother was once married to Ms. Rothschild’s sister.) Previously married to Sheherazade Bentley (also known as Sheherazade Ventura), a jeweler and environmentalist; they have three children.

Proposals: Doubling home construction to 50,000 a year by 2020; ensuring that a significant proportion of homes are designated for renters; moving forward with late-night service on the Underground, London’s subway system; creating more green spaces; deploying more police on public transit at night; avoiding increase in council tax.

Sadiq Khan

Childhood: Son of a bus driver and a seamstress, immigrants from Pakistan. Grew up in public housing in Wandsworth, a borough of Southwest London that has several heavily immigrant neighborhoods.

Age: 45

Education: Attended state schools and studied law at the University of North London.

Current job:

Member of Parliament for Tooting, in South London, since 2005; was minister of state for transportation from 2009 to 2010 under Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Previous job: Lawyer, specializing in employment discrimination, police brutality, civil rights and other social justice issues. Elected to the local council in Wandsworth at the age of 23.

Family life: Married to Saadiya Ahmed, a fellow lawyer, who was also born and raised in South London; they have two daughters.

Proposals: Spurring the construction of new homes and giving Londoners, not overseas investors, the priority in buying them; freezing transportation fares; introducing a one-hour, unlimited-ride bus ticket, intended to help people who use various connections get to work; improving community policing and reducing knife violence (guns in Britain are rare); making cycling safer.

A “Fairness Not Favours: How to Reconnect with British Muslims” (2008)

Other Candidates

Ten other candidates are running for mayor of London: Sian Berry of the Green Party; David Furness of the British National Party; George Galloway of the Respect Party; Paul Golding of Britain First; Lee Eli Harris of Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol; Ankit Love of the One Love Party; Caroline Pidgeon of the Liberal Democrats; Sophie Walker of the Women’s Equality Party; Peter Whittle of the U.K. Independence Party; and John Zylinski, an independent.

Most polls have registered relatively small support for these candidates.

 

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