Hopes for a sweep by a three-candidate coalition ended Tuesday night when Azusa mayoral candidate John Dangleis was narrowly defeated by fellow council member Stephen J. Alexander.
Alexander received 1,253 votes and Dangleis 1,123.
Dangleis waited for the final vote count at 9:30 p.m., hoping to join in celebration with Diane Moritz-Beebe and David Hardison. The two winners beat out eight others for the council seats that Dangleis and Alexander vacated to run for mayor.
Alexander said his top priority is to reopen the political process for public participation and criticized the outgoing council for placing time limits on speakers at council meetings.
His goal is to take downtown revitalization out of the hands of the redevelopment agency and use zoning, code enforcement and planning to revitalize the area.
"The redevelopment agency needs to be restructured and eventually gotten rid of," Alexander said after the election.
Hoarse from campaigning, the 38-year-old lawyer criticized redevelopment projects as he spoke Tuesday night at a victory celebration. He blasted the redevelopment agency for selling a downtown plot of land at Foothill and San Gabriel boulevards to a developer for $250,000 after the city paid $6 million to acquire the land and raze buildings on it.
"It's time to run the city like a business," Alexander said. "I don't think many businesses would be buying something for $6 million and selling it for $250,000."
For Moritz-Beebe and Hardison, their celebration was dampened somewhat by Dangleis' defeat.
"It's a bittersweet victory," Hardison said. "We were running, not on a ticket, but there was one mayoral candidate we thought was going to win and didn't."
Azusa's reputation has been damaged by perennial political infighting that recently has seen council members squaring off against one another over the future of the Azusa Rock Quarry and the goals of the redevelopment agency. With no discernible coalition created by Tuesday's election and a mayor-elect who has often sided with the minority council vote, the city's legislative body may continue to wrangle.
Although Dangleis said he had faith in the incoming council to be productive, he regretted what might have been.
"It's too bad for the city," he said. "If I was elected mayor, we'd have a great working coalition."
Hardison, however, said that Azusa's needs are great enough to catapult the new council into action.