A Narrow Miss in Pomona: Mayor Gets 49.7% of Vote, Faces Runoff

Times Staff Writer

Mayor Donna Smith narrowly missed capturing a majority of the votes Tuesday and will face G. Stanton Selby, the man she replaced as mayor two years ago, in a runoff April 18.

Tomas Ursua upset Councilman E.J. Gaulding for a 2nd District council seat, and Councilman C.L. (Clay) Bryant was reelected to the 3rd District council seat.

In the mayoral race, Smith led a field of six candidates with 3,716 votes, or 49.7%. She needed more than 50% of the vote to avoid a runoff.

Selby placed second with 1,493 votes, or 20%, followed by Jerry Keane with 944 votes, or 12.6%. Anthony M. Foster placed fourth with 659 votes, or 8.9%, and Al Ramirez was close behind with 589, or 7.9% of the vote. Michael E. Johnson finished last, garnering 80 votes, or 1%.


In the race for the 2nd District seat, Ursua, who was supported by Bryant, won in his second try for a council seat by capturing 3,934 votes, or 53.4%. Incumbent Gaulding finished second with 2,726 votes, or 37.1%, and Phyllis J. Agrella placed third with 704 votes, or 9.5%.

In the 3rd District council race, incumbent Bryant edged out Nancy L. Lopez with 4,117 votes, or 56%. Lopez received 3,237 votes, or 44%.

Disappointed With Results

As an overhead projector flashed final election results on a screen in the City Council chamber Tuesday night, Smith pursed her lips in disappointment.


“Three-tenths of a percent from taking it outright,” Smith said, shaking her head. “I guess we have our work cut out for us.”

She said she was disappointed that she missed winning by such a close margin but added that given a field of six candidates, “49% of the vote is an accomplishment.”

Selby, who watched the returns at home on cable television, was pleased he is still in the running but said he had hoped he would do better.

In the six weeks before the April election, Selby said he plans to have more personal contact with voters and to enlist support from mayoral candidates who lost.

“Perhaps in that way I can generate a little more interest in my campaign,” said Selby, who had served two terms as mayor before he was beaten by Smith in 1987.

Shortly after the results were in Tuesday night, supporters of Selby and Smith, who had gathered in the council chambers to watch the returns, tried to out-chant each other. Cries of “Selby, Selby,” and “Donna, Donna” filled the room.

Confident of Win

An elated Bryant said he had been confident about winning the race.


“The people know I’ve been their man,” Bryant said. “I am their man.”

Bryant said he hopes to “persuade this council to stop this foolish spending and increase the Police Department and cut the utility tax.”

Although she lost to Bryant, Lopez was nevertheless in high spirits.

“I feel very good about it, because I feel it being the first time I’m running for office, I did pretty well,” she said.

The two candidates took parting shots at one another. Lopez said Bryant’s victory means four more years of intimidation, hatred and discouragement at City Hall.

Remarking on Lopez’s capturing 44% of the vote, Bryant said, “I think she got a a lot more votes than I expected and a hell of a lot more than she deserved.”

Visibly Disappointed

Gaulding, who said he has 20 years of public service experience, including two terms on the council, was visibly disappointed by his defeat.


“I’m surprised,” Gaulding said. Smith and Lopez both hugged Gaulding to comfort him and offer their support.

“Thanks, Jay, you’ve ben a good teacher for me,” Lopez told Gaulding.

Gaulding said he has no intention of running again for public office.

“I think I’ve lived a good life and done a good job for Pomona,” he said. “I look back at it with satisfaction.”

Political newcomer Ursua was elated about his victory.

“I’m humbled by the turnout,” Ursua said. “It was obvious that the voters of Pomona wanted a different direction.”

He said his goals will be to bring quality development to the city and to fight drug trafficking and other crimes.

Smith, 34, is a co-owner of the Pomona Generator Co. First elected to the council in 1985, she has been mayor since 1987.

Selby, 68, is a retired music teacher and a former mayor. Ursua, 33, is a builder, and Bryant, 68, is a retired engineer.

Winners, when determined, are in bold type. Runoff candidates in city primaries are in italics . (Inc.) designates incumbent office holder.


MAYOR 25 of 25 precincts, 18.2% turnout

Vote % Donna Smith (Inc.) 3,716 49.7 G. Stanton Selby 1,493 20.0 Jerry Keane 944 12.6 Anthony Manuel Foster 659 8.9 Al Ramirez 589 7.9 Michael E. Johnson 80 1.0


District 2

25 of 25 precincts

Vote % Tomas Ursua 3,934 53.4 E. J. Gaulding (Inc.) 2,726 37.1 Phyllis Jean Agrella 704 9.5

District 3

25 of 25 precincts

Vote % C. L. (Clay) Bryant (Inc.) 4,117 56.0 Nancy L. Lopez 3,237 44.0