ONTARIO - There were no campaigns signs.

No ballot statement.

It wasn't even a low-dollar campaign.

Not a dollar was spent by Paul Vincent Avila on his City Council race - where one candidate spent nearly $90,000 alone - and yet, he was elected by voters.

Even ousting a two-term councilwoman.

"I've never seen anything like that before," said Councilman Alan Wapner, who has been on the council for almost two decades.

And he wasn't the one only.

"He was in shock," says Wapner about Avila's reaction.

The longtime council member called to congratulate him and talk to him about his campaign.

"He told me, 'I just ran for the Assembly and it's the first time I didn't do a single thing,"' Wapner recounted.

Recently, at the school board meeting, Avila acknowledged the feat.

"I was elected to the City Council with no money, to people who were spending $60,000 to $100,000 and I still won my seat. Somebody likes me. Somebody wants me where I'm suppose to be at," he said.

In Ontario, it's not rare for a candidate to host a $1,000-a-plate fundraiser or run a campaign upward of $100,000 for a shot on the dais.

"Sometimes, it's being in the right place in the right time," said Chis Jones, Inland Empire political consultant.

Still, with a population of 166,000, and because the city has such a strong business base, it is usually more expensive to campaign in Ontario, said Jones, who has helped several area politicians run campaigns.

A look at the candidates financial statements through Oct. 20 reveal incumbent Sheila Mautz spent nearly $90,000 in her losing bid while councilwoman Debra Dorst-Porada spent $76,000 for her reelection.

First-time candidate, Ruben Valencia, expended $22,000 and spent $585 alone on stamps.

But Avila, who was won his first term to the council, is no stranger to local politics.

"Everybody says it's too expensive to run in city, this proves this it isn't," Wapner said.

But there are more contributing factors that could have impacted the Nov. 6 election results, Jones says.

Even Jones, who didn't work with any of the candidates in this political race, says he is familiar with Avila.

His name has appeared on the ballot at least every two years for the past 15 years, said Jones, who heads his own political consulting firm.

"He's a common candidate," he said.

At the same time, Avila's ballot designation as a member of the school board may have helped his chances. That would especially be the case for those voters who had not taken the time to learn about the candidates.

Jones said he has seen "where a candidate spends virtually nothing and wins."

That's to be expected in a low visibility race, such as campaigns for a seat on a water or fire board, he said.

"It's a surprise," Jones said. "Sometimes persistence pays off - it did here."


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