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Runoffs Give Pomona Voters Clear Choices

April 19, 1987|JESSE KATZ | Times Staff Writer

POMONA — Just about the only thing anyone agrees on is that the choices Tuesday are clear.

In close and bitter races between sharply contrasting candidates, Councilwoman Donna Smith will face former City Councilman C.L. (Clay) Bryant in a runoff for the mayor's office, and Nell Soto will vie with Michael R. Lowe for the vacated District 1 council seat.

As the top two vote-getters, Smith and Bryant earned places on this week's municipal election ballot after defeating incumbent G. Stanton Selby in a three-way primary race last month.

Smith, who was first elected to the council two years ago, received 2,825 votes, or 37% of the total. Bryant, who has served two four-year council terms, received 2,730 votes, or 35.7%. And Selby, who was seeking his third two-year term as mayor, had 2,084 votes, or 27.3%.

Although Smith has dissented from several key council decisions, she has generally sought to align herself with the record of the current city administration. In her campaign, she has emphasized the need to be responsive to the needs of the community and tough against crime.

"I think I've proven in my two years on the council that I fight for what I believe in," said Smith, 32, who runs an automotive electrical shop with her husband. "I'm very conscience-minded. I fight for fairness."

Bryant, on the other hand, has been vehemently critical of virtually every council decision and policy. If elected, he said, he will seek the resignations of the city administrator, community development director and public works director. If defeated, he said, he will move out of town.

"Listen to the people," said Bryant, 67, a retired engineer who has worked as a government consultant on space and nuclear energy projects. "They don't trust anything the city does. They have no confidence in their city government."

Smith, who surprised her opponents by entering the race just hours before the filing deadline on Dec. 26, supports rolling back the 11% utility tax to at least 9.5%, favors levying a $2.4-million special safety tax that will go before the voters July 14, and generally approves of the city's redevelopment efforts, including the proposed Inland Pacific World Trade Center.

"I feel comfortable with the proposal," Smith said of the trade center plans. "I think it's going to be the project letting everyone know that Pomona has turned around."

Bryant, who three times has been an unsuccessful candidate for mayor, supports replacing the utility tax with a 1% payroll tax, opposes the special safety tax and objects to the way redevelopment money has been spent in the city, including the trade center, which he has called a "boondoggle" and an "albatross."

"If they try to build it, they'll have a revolution here in Pomona," Bryant said. "I would rather see a parking lot in its place."

Council Has Option

If Smith is elected mayor, the council would have the option of leaving her seat vacant until a special election could be called or appointing a replacement until the election, said City Clerk Joyce Herr. It would be too late to consolidate the election with the July 14 safety tax vote, Herr said, leaving Nov. 3 as the next regularly scheduled election date.

For the District 1 seat, which is being vacated by Councilman Vernon M. Weigand, candidates Lowe and Soto emerged as the top two vote-getters after last month's four-way race.

Soto, a community relations representative for RTD, received 2,702 votes, or 36.4% of the total. Lowe, a self-employed marketing consultant, had 1,714, or 23%. Although candidates must reside in their districts, they are elected citywide.

Emphasizes Involvement

Soto, who ran unsuccessfully for the seat in 1983, has emphasized her involvement in a range of community activities and her willingness to consult the public on council decisions.

"You have to give the people more consideration," said Soto, 60, a sixth-generation Pomonan. "I don't know why everyone who gets elected thinks they know all the answers. I think it's time we come up off of our high horse."

Lowe, a member of the Chamber of Commerce board and of the Pomona Economic Development Corp., has focused on his business experience and ability to deal effectively with prospective developers.

"I want to see more companies, more jobs and a broader tax base--that's where I'm coming from," said Lowe, 41. "By way of experience, education and community involvement, I have much stronger credentials to make that happen than Nell does."

Doubts on Trade Center

Soto says she favors cutting the utility tax to at least 9.5%, considers the safety tax to be unrealistic and supports the use of redevelopment to bring in revenue-generating businesses, although she has some doubts about the feasibility of the world trade center.

"If it does everything they say it's going to do, I'll support it enthusiastically," Soto said. "But I don't think it's that realistic. I think it needs a lot more study and consideration."

Lowe says he supports a cut in the utility tax to 9.5%, does not think the safety tax will pass and favors the city's redevelopment efforts, including the proposed trade center.

"We're talking about a quality act," Lowe said of the project. "This thing can anchor downtown like nothing else will."

Of Pomona's 113,000 residents, about 38,700 are registered voters. In the 1985 municipal election, voter turnout was 18.2%. In the 1985 general election, turnout was 9%. In the primary election March 3, it was 20.1%.

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