J. Tilman Williams, a former city councilman and mayor who retired from politics three years ago, was sworn in as Garden Grove's new mayor Monday night, ending one of the county's closest elections in history.
Williams, who served as mayor in 1976-78, won the Nov. 3 special election by 18 votes over Councilman Milton Krieger. The new mayor had 1,673 votes to Krieger's 1,655 in the seven-candidate race. Councilman Robert F. Dinsen received 1,645 votes.
The special election became necessary when the remaining four council members were unable to choose a replacement for former Mayor Jonathan H. Cannon, who had served since 1980. Cannon resigned his post in August, when Gov. George Deukmejian appointed him to a newly created West Municipal Court judgeship.
Williams, 62, was the most outspoken of the seven candidates, among them Councilman W.E. (Walt) Donovan who came in third, 78 votes behind the winner. He said that he had run because the four councilmen had been unable to choose a replacement and that that failure had forced the city to spend $60,000 on the special election.
Cites Harsh Words
In remarks after assuming the post at Monday night's City Council meeting, Williams alluded to the harsh words exchanged by the top four candidates during the final two weeks of the campaign.
"I will be the first to admit there was some puffing in my campaign, just as there was in my opponent's (campaign) literature," the mayor said.
Redevelopment was the key issue of the campaign and Williams claimed that the City Council had used too many "give-away" programs to lure new business into Garden Grove. But the other candidates said the new business and the redevelopment projects will upgrade the city's cluttered downtown district and also provide new tax revenues.
The major issue was the recent bailout of the Alicante Princess Hotel. The city paid the Hyatt Corp. $2.25 million to assume control of the 18-month-old, 400-room hotel in exchange for 5% of any profits, because the previous operator had been unable to make a profit.
Krieger, a chief supporter of the hotel and general redevelopment in the city, was also in a conciliatory mood after Williams was sworn into office.
"The campaign is over and finished," he said. "However each of the candidates conducted their campaigns was their business."
May Seek Reelection
Krieger, a councilman since 1973, has said that he would be a mayoral candidate in 1988. Williams has said he "probably" would seek reelection to a full term next year.
Williams also proposed that the City Council approve three of his campaign pledges: to place a moratorium on destruction of apartments and mobile home parks for redevelopment projects; to limit travel by city employees, which he said costs the city about $200,000 a year, and to create a three-person committee to audit all "city functions and expenditures."
The mayor said the proposed committee would have carte blanche authority to examine any city department and would report findings to the City Council. He said he wanted the panel operating by Jan. 1.