POMONA — After a two-year absence, C. L. (Clay) Bryant, a sometimes controversial veteran of local politics, was returned to the City Council by voters Tuesday.
Bryant, 67, will serve the remaining 18 months of Mayor Donna Smith's council term. Smith left the District 3 council seat in April after she defeated Bryant in a runoff to become mayor. Bryant was elected to four-year council terms in 1969 and 1981. Four times he has run unsuccessfully for mayor.
Bryant received 2,577 votes--44.7% of all ballots cast--to defeat runner-up Dale E. Siler, who received 2,110 votes, or 36.7%. Terry Stemple collected 607 votes, or 10.5%, and Alfred D. Niess 465 votes, or 8.1%.
Before the election, Bryant said he hoped to win handily because of his name recognition. After the votes were tallied, he said he was unimpressed with the outcome.
"To tell the truth, I expected a bigger margin," said Bryant, criticizing the county registrar-recorder's office for setting up polling places in inconvenient locations. "They really cut down on the turnout with the location of the polls and the way they were set up," he said. In elections run by the city, polling places are located elsewhere.
But Bryant, who gained a reputation for combativeness in previous campaigns and during his previous tenure on the council, had no complaints about the current direction of city government. With the Oct. 31 retirement of City Administrator Ora Lampman and the April defeat of former Mayor G. Stanton Selby, Bryant said he no longer has any political enemies.
"Because there's been a change in administrators, I think we now can work for unity on this council," Bryant said. "I hope to be a catalyst for bringing this council together."
Citing his campaign promises, Bryant said his top priority will be to reduce or eliminate the city's 11% utility tax. Bryant said he would support a 1% payroll tax to replace the utility tax, a position opposed by Siler and Stemple.
Bryant was also pleased with the defeat of Proposition T, a ballot measure that would have tripled the salaries of the mayor and council members at an annual cost of $28,800. Of the four council candidates, Bryant was most vehement in opposition to the pay increase.
Proposition T was rejected by 65.8% of the voters in Tuesday's election. The proposition was supported by 1,856 voters and opposed by 3,572.
The other city ballot measure, Proposition S, was approved by 73.2% of the voters. The measure amends the City Charter to replace the terms "councilman" and "councilmanic district" with "council member" and "council district." The measure was supported by 3,842 voters and opposed by 1,410.