POMONA — Declaring that Pomona can no longer afford "to limp along in a business-as-usual fashion," Councilman Tomas Ursua has announced he will run for mayor in March against incumbent Donna Smith.
With the filing deadline more than a month away, Ursua became the second declared challenger in what is shaping up as another lively election contest in Pomona. Hal Jackson, a chaplain at a California Youth Authority institution in Chino, has also declared his candidacy.
Smith herself won the mayor's job in an acrimonious battle with then-Mayor G. Stanton Selby and former Councilman C. L. (Clay) Bryant in 1987 and was reelected last year.
Smith said last week that she has decided to seek her third two-year term because Pomona needs stability. She said her experience will be needed next year when the City Council gains at least two new members. Voters will elect council members by district, instead of citywide, for the first time next year, and the number of members will be increased from four to six. The mayor will be the seventh member of the council.
Ursua announced Wednesday that he will run for mayor on a platform that calls for drastically changing the city's economic development strategy, replacing financial subsidies to developers with social programs, such as job training and child care.
Ursua, 34, stressed leadership and vision in a three-page statement outlining his reasons for running for mayor.
"My colleagues on the council, particularly the mayor," Ursua said, "believe in bigger bureaucracy that requires higher taxes, huge tax subsidies for already wealthy developers and relatively little investment in the human needs of Pomona's diverse population."
Instead of trying to lure auto dealers and other businesses to the city with free land and other subsidies, Ursua said, Pomona should invest in its residents by offering them job training, child care, affordable housing and small-business assistance. Ursua said current policies have left Pomona "in the backwaters of the region's economy, with an unskilled, insecure population and limited tax base."
Smith, 36, said that the city's economic progress has not been as rapid as many would like but that the city "is on the right track." By attracting new businesses, Smith said, "we have created thousands of jobs."
Smith said Ursua's decision to run was "not a surprise to me. He has been working on an agenda of his own." Besides, she pointed out, Ursua can run without risking his position on the council. He was elected last year to a four-year term that ends in 1993. "He has a free ride this time," Smith said.
The other declared candidate is Jackson, who was the Democratic nominee in the 65th Assembly District in 1984 and 1986 but has never run for city office. Jackson, 59, is chaplain at the state's Hemon G. Stark Youth Training School for youthful offenders in Chino. Jackson said he is running because "for a long time, Pomona has been lacking good leadership and vision."
Candidates can begin filing nomination papers for the nonpartisan mayoral and council races in two weeks. Nominations will close Dec. 27. The primary election will be held March 5. If no one receives a majority of votes in the primary, the top two finishers in each race will square off in runoff elections to be held April 16.
In addition to the citywide vote for mayor, there will be elections in four council districts. Councilwoman Nell Soto said she is leaning toward running for reelection in District 1. Councilman Mark A. T. Nymeyer, whose term in District 4 also expires next spring, said he will announce his plans at the end of the month. Elections also will be held in two new districts, 5 and 6, which are in the Phillips Ranch/Westmont area and in the portion of the city north of the San Bernardino Freeway.