WEST COVINA — City Councilmember James Toma lost his seat in Tuesday’s election, receiving 1,634 votes (46.42 percent) to Planning Commissioner Dario Castellanos’ 1,886 (53.58 percent).
Toma was first elected in 2013 and was the top vote-getter in that election. He served as mayor in 2016.
“The vote is in and I’ve lost my re-election,” Toma said via Facebook on Wednesday. “I am very disappointed, of course, but thankful for my family and friends for all your support throughout. We are proud of how we ran our campaign. I hope it inspires others to get involved in our local community.”
One of his supporters posted, “I’m so sad for the City of West Covina!”
The San Gabriel Valley Tribune had endorsed Toma, saying, “A California deputy attorney general, a Yale graduate, a former Friends of the West Covina Library president who stopped the city from chopping down 122 trees at the library for a parking lot, he is a superbly smart and capable public servant.”
According to The Tribune, one area of disagreement between the two candidates was taxation. Toma insisted that voters be allowed to decide if they want to pay more in taxes to receive more public safety services, while Castellanos opposed any new taxes, including sales and parcel taxes, to pay for the city’s police and fire departments.
Unlike past elections, this one was district-based. Toma and Castellanos ran in District 4 on the city’s east side.
In District 2, incumbent Mike Spence lost to Leticia “Letty” Lopez, a senior director for the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, 800 (22.12 percent) to 1,300 (35.95 percent), with three other candidates in the running: businessman Brian Gutierrez, former councilmember Roger Hernandez, and former Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District board member Robert William Robinson.
In District 6, Mayor Pro Tem Tony Wu beat former councilmember Frederick “Fred” Sykes, 1,921 (54.92 percent) to 1,577 (45.08 percent). Wu will vacate the at-large seat he was elected to two years ago and the council will appoint a replacement.
Voters in Districts 1 and 3 will choose their representatives in 2020.