REDONDO BEACH — Dawn Ayers says she is running for city clerk because the incumbent, John L. Oliver, hasn't been doing his job.
Oliver, however, says she is running because her aunt is mad at him.
The city clerk, who is responsible for overseeing municipal elections, maintaining city records and accounting for outgoing money, will be chosen in the March 3 municipal elections.
Oliver said he believes City Treasurer Alice E. DeLong, who is also up for reelection, persuaded Ayers, who is her niece, to run against him because she mistakenly believed that he encouraged Bruce Unruh to run against her in the treasurer's race.
Ayers and DeLong both denied that.
Oliver, 38, who is president of the Lincoln Republican Club of the 51st Assembly District, said he would encourage anyone to run for a public office at least once, but that he did not intend to endorse Unruh, a Democrat, until DeLong's niece entered the city clerk's race.
Oliver said that DeLong, by trying to capture a fourth term as treasurer for herself and the city clerk's office for her niece, "wants to keep the finances of the city in the family," and is making a "feudal attempt" to control the City Council and run the rest of City Hall as well.
But, he said, "I don't think the voters are going to buy that package."
He said the city's checks and balances would be destroyed if Ayers were the city clerk and her aunt, DeLong, remains the city treasurer.
Like the city treasurer, the city clerk is paid $37,800 a year and will get $48,000 after the election. Both terms of office are four years.
The city treasurer is responsible for keeping track of incoming money and the city clerk is responsible for keeping track of outgoing money. Ayers agreed that the clerk and treasurer operate as checks and balances on each other to some extent, but said that both officials must coordinate with the city manager and have to report to him.
Ayers, 27, said she hopes that voters will look beyond her relative youth and family relationships and base their decision on qualifications.
She said she has worked for more than eight years in accounting and financing positions. She is now a financial analyst at GLENFED Capital in Glendale.
Oliver said, "I don't know anything about my opponent." He said he plans to campaign on his record and points to several awards that he and the city have received during his past term as evidence of his effectiveness.
Elected in 1982
Oliver was elected city clerk in 1982 to fill the unexpired term of Fred Arnold, who retired. Oliver was reelected the following year. He ran unsuccessfully for the 2nd District City Council seat in 1981.
Oliver said he cleaned up the city's records management system by 1984 by implementing a computerized system that replaced an antiquated, 20-year-old manual system.
Oliver said he also oversaw the implementation of a computerized index of grants, deeds and contracts and developed a computer program to keep track of the members of the city's various commissions and the length of their terms.
In November, Oliver became a certified municipal clerk, a national certification given by the International Institute of Municipal Clerks, which is based in Pasadena. In 1985 and 1986, the city received the state Certificate of Award for Outstanding Finance Reporting and in 1987 received the national Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Finance Reporting.
Oliver's certified municipal clerk's award, Ayers said, is based more on attendance at seminars than on the knowledge of what was covered at those seminars.
She also said that Oliver is not responsible for the city's finance reporting awards because he is not handling all of the financial reporting even though that is part of his responsibilities.
For example, Ayers said, Oliver is not preparing the budget, which is being done by the city manager's staff. City Manager Timothy Casey said Ayers is correct, but that the clerk is involved and the arrangement is an "organizational necessity."
"I may not be handling it, but I am the responsible party," Oliver said. "You start splitting hairs. . . . I, as the finance officer, report to the city manager."
Election Day Hot Line
He said he is proud of his administration of elections. For example, he said, he established an election day hot line from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. to help residents locate their polling places and get election results. He said Redondo Beach has two to five elections each year.
Oliver said he queries each poll worker--about 115 in citywide elections and 250 in countywide elections--about how the election was handled and what could be improved.
Ayers said that a consulting firm helps run city elections. Deputy City Clerk Linda Gregory said the city does use a consulting firm, but said most of the work is done by the city clerk and his staff.
Ayers said she is not looking to the city clerk's office as a stepping stone to higher political office or to the city treasurer's position.
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