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Ex-Councilman Challenges Clerk : Wilson Announces Candidacy for Troubled Torrance Post

May 02, 1985|JULIO MORAN | Times Staff Writer

TORRANCE — Saying he had been urged by city employees and others to help bring organization to the troubled city clerk's office, former City Councilman Donald E. Wilson has announced that he will be a candidate for that office next year.

Wilson, 61, was surrounded by his campaign committee members--including former City Clerk Vernon Coil, City Treasurer Tom Rupert and John Bramhall, an unsuccessful city clerk candidate in 1982--when he made the announcement Tuesday. Wilson said he would not dwell on City Clerk Donna Babb's record because it "has been exposed and publicized in a long and unpleasant series of newspaper articles."

Babb, who is completing her first four-year term amid allegations of misusing city funds for personal and political uses and of violating the civil rights of some of her staff by forcing her religious convictions on them, had no comment on Wilson's announcement. She said she still intends to run for reelection.

Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Candace Beason, who is investigating the allegations againstr Babb, said it will be about a month before her investigation is completed.

Council Support

Wilson, director of teacher education at USC, said he is being supported by six of the seven City Council members. Wilson said he did not seek the endorsement of Councilman Bill Applegate because he assumed Applegate would support Babb.

Applegate said it would be a "misnomer" to call him a supporter of Babb, and said he did not endorse her in the 1982 election and will not endorse any candidate next year because he, too, is up for reelection and does not want to alienate voters.

Some of the council members also balked at publicly endorsing Wilson so early in the campaign. Privately, some council members said they encouraged Wilson to run, but are angry that he would involve them so early.

Filing for office will not open until December for the March 4, 1986, municipal election, but Wilson said he announced early to get exposure for the race against an incumbent and to discourage other potential candidates.

"We don't want to make a dog race out of it," said Civil Service Commissioner Dick Cahill, a member of Wilson's committee.

Candidacy Encouraged

Wilson said he was approached about running for the office, which pays $36,000 a year, soon after the allegations about Babb surfaced. He said that since then some city clerk staff members and city department heads encouraged him to run.

He said the problems in the city clerk's office have "almost reached a crisis point" and there is lack of leadership and cooperation in the office. Wilson said his experience as a councilman would create a "harmonious" relationship with department heads, staff and the City Council.

He said no campaign strategy has been developed, but that he will raise about $10,000, primarily for mailers, and rely on his record as a councilman for 16 years and as a trustee of the Torrance Unified School District for three years. When he announced that he would not seek reelection to the council last year, Wilson said it was time for someone else to take over. Wilson has run unsuccessfully for the state Assembly and Congress.

Wilson and his wife, Doris, have three adult children, and live on Hickory Avenue in central Torrance.

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