POMONA — An incumbent who ran a low-key race and a businesswoman who ran a vigorous door-to-door campaign were the winners in Tuesday's City Council election here.
District 2 Councilman Jay Gaulding beat his opponent, retired policeman Joe Smith, by a margin of only 1.8%--fewer than 100 votes. Gaulding received 2,378 votes to Smith's 2,289.
District 3 candidate Donna Smith, who is not related to Joe Smith, kept away from specifics and struck a moderate, general tone during her successful campaign to defeat Tomas Ursua, an urban planner and self-styled champion of the city's large minority population, with 57.8% to his 42.2%. Smith received 2,746 votes, Ursua 2,007.
Donna Smith said her first act as councilwoman would be to urge that the city order candidates to take down the campaign signs scattered around the city. Other than that, she said, she had no objectives in mind for her first few weeks on the council.
"I think a woman will bring a different perspective to the council," said Smith, who will be the only one on the five-member council. "A woman will be more responsive than a man because a man thinks with his head and a woman thinks with her heart."
The candidates will begin their four-year terms on Monday. And Mayor G. Stanton Selby, who was reelected in March, will be sworn for his new two-year term.
Gaulding said Joe Smith attempted to degrade Pomona during his campaign, focusing on the city's high crime rate and accusing the city government of being corrupt.
"People today tend to believe the worst about politicians and the worst about government" and many voters believed Smith, thus accounting for the closeness of the race, Gaulding said.
Gaulding emphasized the positive in his campaign, telling audiences at forums and civic gatherings that he was tired of hearing people "bad-mouthing Pomona."
Joe Smith and Ursua could not be reached for comment.
The 11% voter turnout in Tuesday's election was among the lowest in recent years, the result, City Clerk Joyce Herr said, of an apparent lack of interest in the candidates.
"The mayor's race in March was really the hot one," Herr said. In that race 16% of the registered voters turned out to reelect Selby by a substantial margin over challenger Clay Bryant. "I don't think there was the impetus to get out and vote this time around."
Herr also said her office challenged a number of absentee ballots and that some appeared to have forged signatures.
Herr said she will refer the apparent forgeries to the district attorney's office to include in their review of Pomona elections.
The district attorney's office is reviewing challenged absentee ballots from the primary election but so far has not ordered any investigation.