DOWNEY — Mayor Bob Davila lost his bid for reelection Tuesday night to Roy Paul, but the defeated councilman remained a maverick to the end.
Sitting in his den after a telephone call brought news of his defeat, Davila expressed regret that he never got a chance to change the name of Firestone Boulevard to Ronald Reagan Boulevard.
"I wanted to do something that would put Downey on the map," he said. "That is the first thing I would have pushed through if I was elected, but I guess now we'll never see that happen."
Indeed, Davila, 58, who had described himself as a spokesman for the people, gathered just 44% of the vote to Paul's 56% in District 2. Nearly 51% of the district's 9,720 voters cast ballots in the race.
Paul said he had expected to win.
"I expected a much wider margin of victory considering the responses I got from people who said they were frustrated with not being represented when I went door-to-door," Paul said Tuesday night at his crowded campaign headquarters on Imperial Highway. "But I feel pretty good about it."
Council Members Backed Challenger
Paul, 36, clearly had the support of council members Diane Boggs, Robert Cormack and Randy Barb, who publicly supported him throughout the campaign and were at his campaign headquarters on election night.
"Having just witnessed the filthiest election in Downey, and I have been here since 1953, I must say I was disappointed in the low quality of the campaign," Boggs said of Davila's campaign.
"We have never had a candidate put out such deceptive campaign literature," Cormack said. " I'm not sure it changed the election dramatically, but I think it might have backfired. I think Mr. Davila is a nice guy, but again I think somebody steered him wrong."
Last weekend, Davila's campaign committee, Friends of Bob Davila, sent out a flyer saying that Paul, a lawyer who specializes in divorce cases, is a criminal attorney with strong gambling interests. It also stated that Paul, who was a Democrat, recently became a Republican.
Paul said that he changed his party affiliation because of "philosophical differences," but denies that he is a criminal attorney or that he is a strong supporter of gambling.
Another Davila mailer that caused an uproar in the Paul campaign was a flyer with a White House return address that implied that President Reagan endorsed Davila for City Council. The mailer includ ed a letter from Reagan thanking Davila for his support.
Davila admits he did not get an endorsement from the President, but he denied running a dirty campaign.
"Not everyone gets a letter from the President, so why shouldn't I be proud of it and want to show it around?" Davila asked.
"The tactics that Roy used, like blaming me because I went out and got a professional (campaign) consultant, now that's dirty politics."
Now that he has won the post, Paul said that he wants to improve communication between the council and the district.
"The first thing I intend to do is set up district meetings every few months to open the lines of communication between District 2 and the City Council," Paul said. "You should never have a person come to a council meeting with 500 signatures when you could have intercepted the problem through open communication."
But Paul Sarvis, president of the 50-member Downey CAREs (Downey Citizens Against Redevelopment Excesses) which endorsed Davila, was guarded in reacting to Paul's victory.
"Roy Paul has expressed a willingness to work with Downey CAREs and we plan to take him up on it," Sarvis said at Davila's home. "Even though Paul has taken great pains to show he is for sensible redevelopment, we are not optimistic."
Neither candidate ever clearly staked out his stand on redevelopment in the Firestone corridor, which had sparked lawsuits from Downey CAREs. In general, though, Paul had said he supported careful use of redevelopment; Davila had said he supported redevelopment but opposed using eminent domain powers to take private property from unwilling owners for the sake of redevelopment.
Cormack said redevelopment has a better chance of prospering with Paul in the District 2 seat.
"This will certainly help our redevelopment, and redevelopment is extremely important to Downey," Cormack said. "Roy Paul will be a real asset. Bob Davila said he supported it (redevelopment) but he consistently voted against it."
Easy Transition Seen
When asked what qualities Paul would bring to his office, Boggs replied: "Intelligence. That is the most important thing, also education and experience. Add to that the fact he has been watching Downey City Council meetings for the past two years, I think he will just slip right in."
While supporters crowded into Paul's headquarters located above a music store, Davila and about a dozen family members and friends sat around a television set drinking beer and waiting for the results.