The early years of Diamond Bar cityhood were contentious as those favoring strict limitation of development clashed with those favoring granting city council with more flexibility in planning land use. In 1992 and again in 1993, the City Council revised and adopted two General Plans presented by citizen advisory committees. Both rescinded by referendum, Diamond Bar’s early distinction included holding the state record for being incorporated without an accepted General Plan.
“The City of Diamond Bar is almost 6 years old now…That doesn’t mean the City Council has to Act that way” was the headline on a Diamond Bar Caucus 1995 campaign flyer endorsing Bob Huff and Carol Herrera. With conflicting visions of how the city should mature, the 1995 election cycle brought out 11 candidates vying for two city council seats, including one held by Phyllis Papen, who would not be re-elected.
Planning Commissioner Bob Huff surpassed the other candidates at the polls. The vote spread for the second seat between Carol Herrera and Don Schad was close, fluctuated, and involved litigation that did not end until May of the following year. Herrera remembers on election night, she was down by six votes. The absentee ballots added in, she was ahead by 12. Schad requested a recount. Herrera could have chosen a hand recount, but she was concerned with the additional cost and believed the recount by machine would provide equitable results.
Each campaign provided witnesses to the recount. Gary Neely and Carolyn Elfelt were among the team representing Herrera. Thirteen observers from Don Schad’s election team, including attorney Al Perez, watched over the 24 county officials who conducted the recount at a cost of $1,782.
On the day of the recount, Herrera and her husband were visiting their son Randy, then a sophomore at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, for the Army-Navy game. City Clerk Linda Burgess called to let her know the L.A. County Registrar declared a tie vote.
When the candidates requested a runoff election, Diamond Bar discovered state law requires that absent an existing local ordinance, the election must be resolved in the same manner as state elections ending in a tie would be: by a flip of the coin or drawing of lots.
At the December 19 council meeting, the names of Schad and Herrera separately inserted into two identical brown envelopes. To assure the blindness in choosing a winner, the sealed envelopes were shaken up within a Christmas bag. A trashcan became the receptacle of the masked materials. A pregnant deputy on duty was entrusted to hold the trashcan while Councilwoman Eileen Ansari reached in. The anonymous envelope opened, Carol Herrera was named as the newest Diamond Bar councilperson.