KENSINGTON -- Incumbent Chuck Toombs and challenger Patricia Gillette easily won the two seats on the town's Police Protection and Community Services District board Tuesday.
Gillette won 33.3 percent of the vote, followed closely by Toombs with 33.1 percent, in a field of five candidates.
Incumbent Cathie Kosel finished far behind with 12.3 percent.
Toombs and Kosel were on different sides of a rift among board members regarding the performance of the district's top administrator. Two of the challengers, Gillette and Jim Hausken, were allied with Toombs and Kosel, respectively. A fifth candidate, Kim Zvik, said she is a "moderate" who doesn't belong to either faction.
"The people of Kensington have made a choice on what kind of future they want. I hope the winners will roll up their sleeves and put aside their personal agendas," said Toombs, the board president. "Any other outcome does damage to the democratic institutions and principles that we as public officials are sworn to uphold."
Gillette had said she was running to restore decorum to the board.
"I think our community values respect for the law and respect for each other," she said Tuesday night. "I want to move forward with people who respect our community's values, instead of being out for their own agendas. That's what local politics should be about."
Toombs has served as president of the board the past three years. He and his two allies on the board, Linda Lipscomb and Tony Lloyd, have consistently supported the police chief and Community Services District General Manager Greg Harman amid questions and criticisms from Kosel and a fifth board member, Mari Metcalf.
Lipscomb, Lloyd and Metcalf are in the middle of four-year terms and not up for re-election.
The consistent 3-2 split in voting, especially on issues concerning Harman and his contract, have made for heated board meetings this year.
Kosel had said she was only acting on her concerns about Harman's pay and the costs of the Police Department as a whole. The chief signed a two-year contract extension in July that pays him $148,000 in salary, along with $88,000 annually in pension and health benefits.
She said she's also concerned about credit-card charges Harman has made for lodging and meals at conferences and trainings. Toombs said two external audits of the spending uncovered no improper charges on Harman's part.
Kosel also asked the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office to look into the spending, but the DA found no criminal wrongdoing.
Toombs disputed the amount of spending Kosel claims and pointed to the series of investigations that he says backs his view.
Gillette said board decorum has been ruined by Kosel's and Metcalf's constant criticism of Harman and the police force.
Hausken, another critic of the board majority, said he was particularly concerned about the cost of police pensions. The board was unable to get officers to agree to contribute to their pensions during contract negotiations earlier this year.
Hausken also said too much crucial debate was held in closed session during board meetings.
Zvik characterized herself as a "moderate person" who pledged to try to take an objective view of issues if elected.