INGLEWOOD — In an unusual move, the City Council has rejected the conditional resignation of longtime City Clerk Iris Crochet, asking instead that she complete the remaining two years of her term.
Crochet, who said she wished to resign for personal reasons, had asked the council to fill the post by scheduling a special election that would coincide with the anticipated June 4 runoff election.
But she also had made her resignation contingent upon the council's appointment of her as acting city clerk until her successor was seated--a move that would have prevented the council from appointing an interim clerk who could then gain an edge in the election.
Mayor Edward Vincent said it was that contingency that prompted the council to reject Crochet's request out of hand.
"We would prefer to see her stay," he said after Tuesday's council meeting. "We can't force her to stay. But if she leaves, she leaves. I don't see a need for her to become acting city clerk."
School board member Caroline Coleman, one of Vincent's political allies, ran against Crochet in 1982. But Vincent said Tuesday that if Crochet insists on resigning, the council will probably make Crochet's deputy the acting city clerk until a special election can be called.
Crochet, who expressed disappointment at the council's decision, said she made the request "not as a personal favor" but because she believed it would make the smoothest transition.
"My predecessor did it this way, so there is a precedent for it," she said. Crochet, who took office in 1977, replaced Helen Rieck Fawcett after winning a special election to finish Fawcett's unexpired term. Crochet has been reelected twice.
Several council members, including Councilman Daniel K. Tabor, praised Crochet during the meeting. After the meeting, however, Tabor termed the conditions of Crochet's request "inappropriate," and said he resented her "attempt to back us into a corner."
"She didn't have the right to lay that contingency on us. I have no real objection to her becoming acting city clerk. It's just the way she tried to do it that bothers me. She serves us. We should have been able to accept her resignation and then take her request to be made acting city clerk under advisement. I think she would have gotten what she wanted if she'd been a little less staunch. We just didn't like being backed into a corner."
Will Stay On
Crochet later said that in light of the council's refusal, she will stay on "for the time being--at least until the municipal election is over." After that, she said, "I don't know what will happen. I really didn't have an alternate plan ready" for bowing out.
While the city clerk's job is classified as a $900-a-month part-time position in Inglewood, Crochet carries additional duties and salaries granted by the council that bring her earnings to $32,000 a year. Vincent has said that if Crochet resigns, the council may rescind those additional duties and salaries.
Crochet said she wanted to resign to tend to property she owns in Texas and to "play more golf."
She has served nearly 30 years as an elected official in Inglewood. She holds the distinction of once having been the city's only councilwoman, a post she held from 1955 to 1963, when she lost a mayoral bid. She also served 16 years as a director on the Central and West Basin Water Replenishment Board, where she represented the city.