Al Rumpilla, co-chairman of a citizens committee opposed to incorporation, stubbornly refused to concede defeat Tuesday as election returns showed voters favoring cityhood by a 3-to-1 margin. But when the last ballots had been counted--and cityhood favored by more than 7,200 of the 9,500 residents who voted--Rumpilla grudgingly relented.
“They whipped us good,” said Rumpilla, who helped lead a successful cityhood opposition effort in 1983. “But I think the community, within six months to a year, is going to be sorry they voted the way they did . . .. I’m flabbergasted at the individuals who were picked for the council and I predict that within six months to a year, one of them is going to be recalled.”
Rumpilla’s dire forecast was one of the few expressions of discontent as Diamond Bar community leaders hailed both the cityhood vote and the voters’ choices for City Council, which will hold its first meeting sometime next month.
“We did it!” incorporation committee chairman Ivan Nyal shouted repeatedly during a celebration Tuesday night at the Diamond Bar Country Club. Recalling the 1983 campaign, in which a cityhood measure lost by 230 of 6,696 votes cast, Nyal attributed Tuesday’s victory to aggressive campaigning.
“We did everything in our power to make sure we didn’t make the same mistakes we made in 1983,” he said.
“The ‘no’ people got out and campaigned very heavily in 1983. We learned our lesson from that. We put up billboards, we sent out a mailer and told everyone in Diamond Bar about cityhood, which we didn’t do last time.”
In addition to choosing cityhood, Diamond Bar voters decided they preferred at-large elections, with 4,564 favoring a citywide vote to 4,084 who supported electing council members by district.
The five council members elected Tuesday are all well-known in the community. They are: Diamond Bar Improvement Assn. President Phyllis Papen, Municipal Advisory Council members Paul Horcher and Gary Miller, incorporation committee founder Gary Werner, and Walnut Valley school board President John Forbing.
“It looks like a very good council,” said Werner, who finished third with 3,593 votes. “I couldn’t have picked them any better myself.”
Papen, 44, easily led the field of 20 candidates with 4,646 votes, 12% of all votes cast. A Diamond Bar real estate broker and president of the improvement association for three years, Papen said she was surprised she did so well.
“I had not anticipated this much support in the community and I take it as a mandate for cityhood and for my own individual endeavors,” Papen said. “This has been an eight-year dream and actually (Tuesday) is a celebration that’s been delayed for five years.”
Horcher, 37, received 4,073 votes, or 10.5%, to finish second. Although somewhat disappointed by the second-place showing, Horcher said he considered his finish a vindication for a mailer sent out last week by the Southern California Caucus, which criticized him as the least effective candidate in the race.
“The fact that I finished second--that’s my badge of honor,” he said. Horcher, a Diamond Bar attorney known for his occasionally pointed remarks about county officials and political opponents, gave a relatively positive assessment of the new council.
“I’m a believer in the system--you’re innocent until you’re proven guilty,” Horcher said of his council colleagues. “I have high hopes. I want to have a clean slate with everybody and start fresh.”
Papen and Horcher had finished second and third, respectively, in the 1983 City Council race behind former Municipal Advisory Council member Don Stokes. The council had acted as an advisory body to the county on matters concerning Diamond Bar. Stokes, who died in October, was proclaimed “honorary mayor” of Diamond Bar by cityhood proponents Tuesday night.
As the top two vote-getters, Papen and Horcher will serve four-year council terms. The other council members elected Tuesday will be up for reelection in 1991.
Miller, who gained local prominence last fall as the founder of Concerned Citizens for Diamond Bar Traffic Control, finished fourth with 3,522 votes, or 9.1%.
Miller, a 40-year-old businessman, said the new council’s first job should be “to unify the community, to get all the factions together, because we’ve got a lot of problems to solve.
“I think it’s going to be a real good, positive council,” Miller said. “The campaigning is over. Now, it’s time to get to work.”
Forbing, 45, also a member of the improvement association, received 2,992 votes, or 7.7%, to win the last seat on the council. A longtime proponent of cityhood, Forbing reveled in the victories of both the incorporation campaign and his own candidacy.
“I’ve been working on this since ’82 and it’s just gratifying and overwhelming that the community finally saw fit to support incorporation,” said Forbing, an insurance broker in Pomona. “They elected a great council and we’re going to work together.”
Municipal Advisory Council members Gary Neely and Cleve Holifield fell just short of winning seats on the council. Neely finished sixth with 2,873 votes or 7.4%, while Holifield was seventh with 2,791 or 7.2%. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Steve Webb placed eighth with 1,933 votes, or 5.0%.
The newly elected City Council held an impromptu first meeting Tuesday night with Ruth Benell, executive officer of the county Local Agency Formation Commission. The council members will meet almost daily for the next month.
26 of 26 precincts, 38.8% turnout
INCORPORATION Shall the unincorporated area of Diamond Bar be incorporated as a general law city?
Vote % Yes 7,222 76.2 No 2,251 23.8
BALLOT MEASURE If this city is incorporated, shall the members of the city council in future elections be elected by district or at large?
Vote % At Large 4,564 52.8 By District 4,084 47.2
CITY COUNCIL 5 vacancies
Vote Phyllis Papen 4,646 Paul Virgil Horcher 4,073 Gary H. Werner 3,593 Gary G. Miller 3,522 John A. Forbing 2,992 Gary L. Neely 2,873 Cleve Holifield 2,791 Steve Webb 1,933 Gary W. Lawson 1,860 Ronald V. Downing 1,499 Pat McGinn 1,386 Donna Ann Rhode 1,330 Ron Phelps 1,309 John F. Andrews 1,099 Thomas F. Ortiz 904 Bill White 866 Benjamin T. Quan 703 Daniel R. Bush 594 Gregory H. Gaffney 348 Robert G. Hutchinson 295