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South Gate : Vice Mayor Bypassed as DeWitt Named to Lead City

April 25, 1985

Breaking with recent tradition, City Council members Monday selected Bill DeWitt as mayor and bypassed Odell (Del) Snavely, the vice mayor who was next in line for the city's top office.

DeWitt, 43, who owns a local woodworking business, said he did not seek the position of mayor but that he hoped the city would progress under his leadership.

For the past three years, the council in its annual reorganization has chosen the vice mayor as mayor. Snavely, a former mayor in 1980-81 and 1982-83, was the object of controversy last year when he was accused during a council meeting of selling sexual paraphernalia at his gift shop. The allegations were made by Robert Winter, an unsuccessful council candidate.

Snavely, a minister at the South Gate Church of Christ, denied the allegations and a subsequent investigation by the South Gate Police Department found no crime was committed. The councilman, who faces reelection next April, said he did not believe the charges had anything to do with the council's decision to bypass him for the mayor's job.

Other council members agreed, saying they had other reasons for unanimously choosing DeWitt as mayor and Councilman John Sheehy as vice mayor.

"I feel more comfortable with Bill DeWitt as the mayor," said Councilman Henry Gonzalez.

The outgoing mayor, Herb Cranton, said he did not want to comment on whether the allegations against Snavely affected the council's decision, saying, "It will only get me into trouble."

Cranton said he believed that other council members should have a chance to be mayor, a position that involves added hours but the same $400-a-month salary. He pointed out that though Snavely was in line for the top job as vice mayor, he had served as mayor only two years ago.

Snavely, who other council members said had expressed an interest in the mayor's job, said he was not disappointed with the council's selection of DeWitt. He added that he knew he did not have the necessary votes to be elected mayor.

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