POMONA — Voters here reelected Mayor G. Stanton Selby this week but forced the top two voter-getters in two council races, including incumbent Jay Gaulding, into April runoff elections.
Selby defeated a challenge by Councilman Clay Bryant, his only opponent, by picking up 54.3% (3,394) of the citywide vote on Tuesday. Neither Bryant, who received 45.7% of the vote (2,849), nor Selby was available for comment Wednesday. Bryant had said earlier that he would bow out of public life if he did not win the mayoral race.
A total of 6,395 people went to the polls.
In the race for Bryant's District 3 council seat, Donna Smith and Tomas Ursua picked up the most votes in a four-candidate field, with 36.8% (2,256) and 24.8% (1,523) respectively. In the three-candidate District 2 race, incumbent Jay Gaulding won 44% (2,694) of the vote--6% less than required for victory--and will face challenger Joe Smith, who received 34.2% (2,086) in the April 16 runoff.
Voters also approved two of three proposed amendments to the city Charter. Proposition A, which eliminates unnecessary language in the document and brings it into conformance with state law, received 3,589 yes votes and 1,914 no votes, or 65.2% to 34.8%.
Proposition B, which will permit the city clerk to read only the title of a proposed ordinance at council meetings and to cease publishing newly adopted ones, won by a slim margin of 0.8%--2,779 yes to 2,730 no votes, or 50.4% to 49.6%.
Proposition C, which will allow the city manager to remove his appointees without regard to the merit provision in the Charter, was approved, with 3,577 or 64.7% voting yes and 1,953 or 35.3% voting no.
After results of the primary were in, Joe Smith, who owns a local restaurant, said he would conduct a largely door-to-door campaign for the runoff.
"I will work for the average citizen rather than big business," Smith said. "Gaulding is part of what I call the 12-percenter group in Pomona--a little selective group of people who have controlled the city for many years. It's these 12-percenters who have been trying to keep me out."
Gaulding rejected Smith's claim.
"There is no centralized political power in Pomona and there hasn't been for a number of years," Gaulding said. "I'm a very independent councilman."
In District 3, businesswoman Donna Smith said she would "continue to run a clean and honest campaign," but that she "really didn't know what we did or didn't do" to attract a majority in the primary.
Ursua, an urban planner, said he would continue to speak out against business interests as he did in the primary.
"What I kept emphasizing was the need for a more professional City Council," he said. "I feel that's what I represent. It's going to take creative leadership to take on the problems of community degeneration and chronic unemployment that cities like Pomona have."
In District 3, John P. Perkins (1,022 for 16.6%) and Arthur W. Manning Jr. (1,343 for 21.9%) trailed the front-runners and will not be on the runoff ballot. In District 2, Joseph Lee Duncan (1,328 for 21.8%) failed to make the runoff.
Voting was interrupted briefly at Mendoza Elementary School, where pollster Joseph G. Gonzales of Pomona was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of stepping within the 100-foot limit of a polling place to campaign or conduct surveys. Gonzales, who told police he was hired by a San Antonio research firm to present voters with a questionnaire, was later released.
Police Capt. Jack Blair said officers were sent to other polling places because of complaints about pollsters harassing voters, but no other arrests were made. He said the firm that hired the pollsters, the Voter's Research Institute, apparently recruited several residents Monday night to work Tuesday but did not tell them to stay outside the 100-foot barrier.
The ballot counting itself also had an element in intrigue.
Two members of the district attorney's bureau of special investigations, Carol Beason and Raul Gutierrez, and Richard Nishite of the secretary of state's office were present in the City Council chambers to observe the separation of valid from invalid absentee ballots Tuesday night.
City Clerk Joyce Herr said she called in Beason and Nishite when she learned last week that the registrar had rejected 118 of 687 absentee ballot applications.
"That's better than one out of eight, and that's pretty high," Herr said. "Most of them either weren't registered or the signatures didn't match signatures on file in the registrar's office."
The registrar is required by law to compare signatures on ballot applications with those in voter registration forms.
Herr said she wanted to ensure that the city would not be accused of bias in processing the ballots since such a large number were rejected.
Neither Herr nor Beason would say whether campaign workers for any of the candidates had collected a majority of the suspicious ballots.
Beason said no complaints about the ballots had been filed.