Inglewood mayors race: Uncertainties abound

Cynthia E. Griffin- | 8/25/2010, 5 p.m.

This has been a tough political year for the city of Inglewood.

In January, three-term Mayor Roosevelt Dorn, who had been in office since 1997, resigned amid charges by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office of conflict of interest and misappropriation of public funds.

Two months later City Administrator Tim Wanamaker abruptly resigned, after only two years on the job. Then a month later, Jeff Muir, Inglewood's chief financial officer (CFO) gave his resignation.

Muir initially began working at Inglewood in 1997, left in 2004 but returned in December 2009 to help the city straighten up its financial house.

As a result of the chaos, the City Council had not received an audit for two years, and when they were finally presented, found that the municipality was in such a bad financial position that service cuts and lay-offs could definitely be in the offing.

But the challenges did not stop there. In the special election held in June to fill Dorn's unexpired term, nine candidates ran for the office, which with the polarization that is not atypical in Inglewood, forced a run off. Then the second place voter-getter James Butts was disqualified, because his change of address application was not stamped by the Los Angeles County Clerk's office prior to the city's residency deadline requirement.

So now, two candidates are left to vie for a seat which they will occupy for about two months, and during the entire time the winner will be campaigning once again--this time to earn a full four-year term as mayor.

The election, which initially was slated for mid-August, was pushed back to the end of the month to give the third-place vote-getter time to campaign, but that person, City Councilwoman Judy Dunlap, announced July 27 that she would not campaign.

"It is important to note here, that in the early part of this year, when I informed Inglewood residents of our impending financial crisis and the need to take immediate corrective action, I was called a liar and was accused of 'politicking.'

"The focus was not on the message but on the messenger. I was accused of inflaming residents for the sole purpose of bringing attention to my mayoral campaign.

"However, the situation is actually worse than predicted. Earlier this month (July 2010), the city's $22 million of Undesignated Reserves and Emergency Fund money was completely depleted. Yes, that's right. A zero balance ... and we have yet to cut the now $15 million dollars needed to balance the structural deficit.

"I cannot allow my views to be distorted and maligned by my political opposition because of elections that I tried to prevent. When I say political opposition, I am not just talking about other candidates. I am talking about rag journals that print gossip, lies and misinformation that serve the political agenda of our former mayor. He and his supporters want to turn back the clock... and revert to a time when racial diversity was unacceptable and minority candidates were destroyed by any means necessary.