Inglewood, CA–The quest to fill the mayor’s seat that began when, incumbent Roosevelt Dorn was forced to retire, is just the latest move in the rough and tumble world of Inglewood politics. And although the election June 8 will determine who could ultimately take over the reins of this 101-year-old city, that won’t stop the domino effect that was unleashed by Dorn’s resignation.
That is because three current city council members–Judy Dunlap, Ralph Franklin and Daniel Tabor as well as City Treasurer Wanda Brown–are among the nine candidates on the ballot.
In order to win the office outright, a candidate would have to garner 50 percent plus one vote in June. If this does not happen, the top two vote getters will meet in a run-off election potentially on Aug. 17, and the winner would take office by early September.
If one of the winners is a sitting elected official, according to the city clerk’s office the city council has a number of options: appoint some fulfill the unexpired term until the next election in April 2011; call for a special election, which would be an expensive proposition, said the city clerk or leave the seat vacant until the next election.
The likelihood of a run-off is a distinct possibility because each of the incumbent elected officials have strong and loyal followings. Additionally, voter turn-out for Inglewood elections has traditionally been low. As residents consider the nine candidates seeking their votes, there are some tough issues that must be addressed, and most prominent among those is the Inglewood Police Department.
According to published reports, Inglewood police shot and killed 11 people between 2003 and 2009, and five of them were unarmed. A 12th man was shot just last month, after he allegedly lunged toward officers with an ax. The shootings prompted numerous investigations. The following is a look at the candidates running and their positions on the issues in their own words.
Why do you want to be mayor, and what unique skills, talents will you bring to the job?
Brown: I believe with my education, experience and leadership, I can provide the kind of leadership needed to unite and move Inglewood. It is an All-American City with the potential to be even greater. I have bachelor of science and MBA degrees with an accounting emphasis as well as post-graduate studies in accounting.
Tabor: I want to use the formal education, administrative and budget experience, leadership abilities, and communication skills I have developed in 37 years of public service in the cities of Inglewood, Santa Monica and Los Angeles. I have both a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration. I have been responsible for the administration of several multi-million dollar budgets, the last of which at $116 million was 31 percent larger than the $88 million general fund of the City of Inglewood. I was responsible for the performance of more than 1,100 employees versus the 733 full-time employees of Inglewood. My city needs a mayor with a vision of what Inglewood can become that will motivate and inspire all stakeholders; One who can identify the core of issues and opportunities and focus the conversation on those to create a coherent plan of action.
Butts: I bring more than 30 years of public service, including two terms on City Counci representing the Fourth District, 12 years as Inglewood Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman and ongoing leadership roles in other government, business and labor organizations. I know how to build consensus and reach beyond Inglewood’s geographical boundaries to gain support for city initiatives and to influence regional matters that impact our city.
Redeemer: I want to help lead this city back to its rightful place as an All-American city. I want to work with residents, the business community, and other government leaders to strategically address the current ills and provide direction for the future. I want to provide a trustworthy example of stewardship of city finances, resources, and public confidence. As a resident, not a politician, I bring a view from the homeowner, parent, and taxpayer.
Shillingford: The desire to improve Inglewood guides my decision to run for Mayor. I bring almost 30 years of Inglewood community member experience, leadership in building employment for some of this country’s largest organizations. I am also one of Inglewood’s young leaders who has the rare opportunity to galvanize both youth and seniors.
What are the top three issues in Inglewood, and what is your plan to address them?
Brown: (1) $13.4 million operating deficit. (2) Public Safety (3) Economic development and senior housing. Taxes make up approximately 75 percent of our general fund revenues. We have to think beyond the budget and traditional ways of raising revenues. We have to look within and make a detail analysis to see if we are functioning in the most efficient way, are we using our human resources to the best fit, and are we ordering products in the most efficient manner.
Butts: Structural budget deficit. The current fiscal year ending in September has a deficit extrapolated to be approximately $13.5 million. I intend to rapidly engage the community and stakeholders to establish and develop consensus on our core government missions and tailor expenditures to fit those priorities. The first priority will be to right-size our government bureaucracy while maintaining our quality of life and remain an attractive community in which to live, visit, recreate, and invest. Public safety will have to remain a priority as we match expenditures with revenues.
Economic Development. I will seek and strategically approve mixed use development proposals under the aegis of the Hollywood Park Specific Plan. Development of the 238-acre Hollywood Park parcel holds opportunity to replace and supplement revenues lost to Inglewood as a result of the most recent recession and mismanagement of the city’s revenue/expenditure budget forecasts. A comprehensive mixed use strategic development of this parcel holds the greatest promise to generate local jobs with decent wages.
Franklin: I will address all the issues facing Inglewood by finding solutions, building alliances, tapping available resources, such as federal funding, and fighting for Inglewood’s fair share of education, job training, and mass transit dollars. Jobs, jobs, jobs are the top three issues, and these jobs must be provided by a pro-active city government. Build strong public-private partnerships to attract new, responsible businesses to provide local services, increase city revenues and grow good jobs; secure federal funding for repairing and replacing our aging infrastructure–sewers, streets and sidewalks; hire local firms and job applicants to do the work; retain more of Inglewood’s tax dollars for our local needs, rather than seeing our hard-earned funds appropriated by Sacramento; balance the city’s budget without raising taxes.
Redeemer: Restore economic vitality to Inglewood. Fiscal responsibility, transparency and accountability within the entire city governmental structure is an absolute necessity to restoration of confidence of citizen, but also the business community and elected representatives in Sacramento and Washington. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to invite “the stakeholders” of Inglewood, to assist in drafting the priorities for the city budget, and to track the expenditure of funds that correlate to the approved annual fiscal road map with realistic boundaries.
Renew civic pride and active community involvement. I will strengthen the active role of block clubs in shaping redevelopment plans, community plans, specific plans, conditional use permits and variances, throughout the city. I would require an “advisory approval” by the majority of block clubs, regarding any change in existing or proposed land use in the city.
Safe streets and a safe city. I would actively seek federal assistance through our Congressional representatives for increased funding from the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration, to supplement city funds, in the areas of anti-gang resources, as well as major and street level drug arrest.
Shillingford: I have spoken with many city members who have concerns surrounding need for community improvements, job creation, tax and budget management. Much of this can be accomplished through regentrification of downtown Inglewood, leveraging contacts to establish a pleasant plaza similar to the Los Angeles Grove.
Tabor: Fixing the $13.4 million budget deficit; we need a plan that reduces cost in the short term, manages cost in the long term and generates revenue starting today. In the next three months, we must align resources to core services and reduce or eliminate all non-core activity. We must modify our long-term debt obligations and engage residents, businesses and employees in our deliberations.
Creating economic opportunity for Inglewood residents and businesses. We are on the verge of unprecedented growth which must include the formation of wealth among our residents. Local business growth will create jobs and local owners hire locally. The public infrastructure projects that are planned–Century Blvd. reconstruction, LAX-Crenshaw Light Rail Line, South La Brea reconstruction will bring nearly $2 billion in employment and contracting opportunities. My motion giving staff direction to prepare a project labor agreement and a local hiring program will guarantee that Inglewood businesses and residents share in the economic stimulus.
Expanding services and facilities for seniors and youth. Additionally, I am partnering with First Church of God to explore ways to serve seniors at the former Daniel Freeman Hospital Fitness Center / YMCA.
How will you “fix” the Police Department?
Brown: Hire more police officers. Have greater community police visibility. Have enhanced training and education for police.
Butts: The Inglewood Police Department is has been undergoing a cleansing process that is partly the result of 10 years of having to recruit against higher paying police departments to obtain the best potential police talent. As a result, substandard officers were hired. This dynamic combined with lax training and oversight resulted in a number of behavior and performance related problems. Specifically, as Mayor I would require regular reports and briefings from the police chief regarding training, complaint investigations processes, and crime reduction strategies. I would use the expertise gained from 37 years of public safety experience to evaluate the performance of our police leadership team. I, alone among the candidates for office, have the background and experience to provide effective oversight and leadership for our police executive team and to challenge when warranted.
Redeemer: The problems with the Inglewood Police Department are multi-faceted and have grown over time. The solutions are also multi-faceted and must take time to germinate. We must commit ourselves as a city, to seriously consider a review of our currently policy regarding officer involved shootings, and the subsequent financial settlements of said cases. We can ill afford the loss of life of innocent people, the financial impact to the city and the tarnished image of the Inglewood Police Department and the city as a whole. The recent reforms instituted by the chief of police is a step in the right direction.
Shillingford: I am troubled as a community member about the past incidents that have put a negative cloud on our police force. I have several friends from school that are on the force and it all boils down to accountability through training. I have a proposal to provide ongoing training, creation of an expert oversight manager position within the department, and a new position for community complaints or suggestions with a direct ear from my office.
Tabor: We are “fixing” the Inglewood Police department. The first step was hiring a chief who had a recognition of what the department needed and could construct a plan to address the needs. Secondly, we required each officer in the department at every level to attend a 120-hour comprehensive training to correct past deficiencies and adopt new strategies. Third, we appointed a Blue Ribbon Task Force to explore best practices in police oversight and recommend their findings to the City Council. Fourth, we brought in the Office of Independent Review, a Civil Rights attorney-led organization charged to independently review our police departments. Fifth, we reinstituted the Civilian Police Academy, where residents and others are instructed in the operations of the police department, their procedures, training and call for assistance protocols.
Franklin: Insure Inglewood police officers truly serve the community and are held accountable for their actions; encourage more civic interaction and better understanding of public safety issues, police procedures and concerns of residents.