Villalta wins mayoral race

Los Banos voters chose not to stay the course in the mayoral race and stick with the incumbent and a hometown political newcomer in the City Council contest during Tuesday night’s election.

Voters chose businessman and former school administrator Mike Villalta as the mayor-elect.

According to the Merced County Registrar of Voters office Villalta won by defeating incumbent Tommy Jones and retired construction engineer Keith Snow. Villalta garnered 3,057 votes totaling 54.7 percent, to Jones’ 2,173 votes and Snow’s 320 ballots cast for him.

Villalta based his campaign around a theme of returning fiscal responsibility to City Hall while Mayor Jones asked voters to stay the course and wait out the economy. Villalta could not be reached for comment on election night after the results were finalized.

Los Banosans also returned incumbent Tom Faria to his council seat for four more years and voted to fill Villalta’s former slot with Dairyman Scott Silveira, who was born and raised in the city. Faria received 2,983 votes or 35.8 percent. Silveira garnered the most votes,3,075, in the race totaling 36.9 percent. Challengers Linda Martinez and Dan Beasworrick finished well behind the winners with 18.3 percent and 8.3 percent of the vote respectively.

Like Villalta, Faria could not be reached for comment late Tuesday night. Silveira did speak with the Enterprise on election night.

“I’m ready to go to work for the city of Los Banos,” Silveira, 32, said. “I want to look at the things we’re doing to bring jobs here and reevaluate all those things. Right now I don’t feel we’re working quite hard enough to get jobs here. I’m a firm believer that jobs make everything else work.”

Silveira thanked all of his supporters and said he wanted to be on the council because as a native of Los Banos he’s never wanted to live anywhere else.

“I have friends that as soon as they turned 18 they wanted to go, wanted out of Los Banos. I was never that person. I like the local life,” he said.

The City Council has been split by a rigid 3-2 margins on many votes in the past four years. Silveira said he plans to join the board and work with everyone.

“Will I be able to work with them, I don’t know. I haven't done it yet,” he said. “But I go into it willing to, and wanting to, work with anybody that’s there.”

In other election results in the city the Los Banos Unified School District returned all three of its incumbent school board trustees — Dennis Areias, Andree Soares and Chase Hurley to office.

For a list of all countywide election results go to the Merced County Elections Department’s Web site at www.co.merced.ca.us. Click on the departments link and scroll to elections.

Reporter Corey Pride can be reached at 388-6563 or via e-mail at cpride@ losbanosenterprise.com.