Election 2014: Claremont voters pass Measure W

CLAREMONT >> With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Measure W passed with a commanding lead of 6,116 votes in favor and 2,452 votes opposed to the initiative which taxpayers hope will reduce water rates.

Residents headed to the polls to decide the fate of the highly contentious Measure W, which would allow Claremont to borrow up to $135 million in revenue bonds to finance the acquisition of the local water system owned and operated by Golden State Water Co.

Betty Crocker, a member of the group Claremont Friends of Locally Owned Water, said absentee ballots in Claremont is usually a strong indicator of what the end results will be.

“It’s a strong statement that this is just not an effective way to reach Claremont. Big city politics, big GSW money does not work in our little sweet in town,” Crocker said. “What works in Claremont is neighbor-to-neighbor (campaigning).”

Officials say the move would help stabilize rates and lower water bills, but opponents argue such a move would end up burdening ratepayers. If the measure passes, the next step in the eminent domain proceedings will be for the city to initiate a declaration of necessity — Claremont’s claim to acquire the system.

“We’ve been very busy. I know they say it’s going to be a low turnout, but I think locally we’re going to see a lot because of interest in Measure W,” said Sonja Stump, precinct inspector at the Sycamore School polling place in Claremont, at mid-morning Tuesday.

In the weeks leading up to Election Day, residents were inundated with mailers from both sides -mainly coming from No on W. On Tuesday, Claremont officials received numerous calls that political signs were placed in the public right of way overnight.

"The No on Measure W signs were taken down by Code Enforcement in the public right of ways,” said Bevin Handel, spokeswoman for Claremont.

A total of 311 signs were removed, she said.

“It’s the dirtiest campaign in Claremont history,” said Ellen Taylor, a former councilwoman, after casting her ballot for Measure W.

The 35-year resident said after voting: “It reminded me of something from Boston, where I’m from.” She said she donated all the campaign mailers to Claremont Heritage because she thought they would have historic interest one day.

Taylor said she thought the negative mailers from the “no” side showed “desperation” and that some people had told her they would vote for W as a reaction to the scare tactics.

“People in Claremont have a sense of right and wrong,” Taylor said.

Liset Marquez

Staff Writer David Allen contributed to this report.