Villalta re-elected to mayoral seat

tmiller@losbanosenterprise.comNovember 6, 2012 

Los Banos Mayor Mike Villalta was elected to a second term Tuesday night, garnering 4,014 votes (59 percent), while challenger Joe Sousa, who gave up his City Council seat to vie for the mayoral position, held 40.1 percent with 2,728 votes.

Villalta's campaign focused on making Los Banos friendly to business. He voted to suspend Regional Transportation Impact Fees, charged to developers, while in his first term.

Sousa asked developers to pay for new construction, arguing that it would come back on residents eventually. He said he would restore relationships Villalta had ruined with county representatives and neighboring cities.

The candidates also disagreed on the funding of a county homeless effort that benefited locals. Sousa voted to contribute to the program, while Villalta led the charge to keep the $12,000 in the city's general fund.

Villalta outpaced Sousa sevenfold in campaign contributions as of the last filing deadline, Oct. 5. The incumbent brought in $21,000 to the challenger's $3,000.

City Council seats

Elizabeth Stonegrove, running to keep her City Council spot for another four years, acquired 3,043 votes for 29.7 percent.

Deborah Lewis, a retired public guardian and Los Banos planning commissioner, won the other open seat on the council by receiving the most votes with 3,178, or 31 percent.

Pastor Steve Hammond received 21.4 percent of the vote, or 2,197. Arkady Faktorovich, an engineer and business owner, held fourth place with 17.3 percent of the vote, 1,780 votes.

Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanos enterprise.com.

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