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ELECTION RETURNS : Vincent Handily Wins 4th Term as Inglewood Mayor : Judy Dunlap, one of two opponents, claims election violations and promises to contest his victory.

November 10, 1994|LISA RICHARDSON and JON GARCIA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Edward Vincent easily won reelection for a fourth term as Inglewood mayor Tuesday, trouncing City Council members Judy Dunlap and Garland Hardeman.

Vincent continued his campaign practice of not showing concern for the opposition by falling asleep at home while waiting for election returns.

He did not show up for the party at his headquarters on the corner of La Brea and Manchester streets, where supporters ate fried chicken and potato salad and sipped champagne until after midnight, when the first returns trickled in.

"Well, I feel good about this election," he said in a telephone interview around 10 p.m., shortly after waking up from his nap. "I'm not nervous."

Vincent's strategy throughout the campaign was to ignore his opponents, and he refused to debate Hardeman and Dunlap, who accused him of poor leadership.

The question at his campaign party was not whether Vincent would win, but by how much.

"What we want is for the voters to send a strong message that he is their real choice," said Vincent's campaign manager, Roger Thomas. "We want a resounding victory, and we're hoping they will show their appreciation for all the work he's done."

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Vincent campaigned on his accomplishments in office, linking them to the city's firm financial standing. He told voters that Inglewood is on the right track, crime is falling and businesses continue to be attracted to the city.

And he stuck up for City Manager Paul D. Eckles, whom Hardeman and Dunlap want to oust.

The election results mean that the composition of Inglewood's council remains the same, but the ideological animosity among Vincent, Dunlap and Hardeman has new fuel.

Dunlap, campaigning on a promise to make city leaders more accountable to the citizens, claimed voter fraud from the outset.

Early Tuesday, her campaign received reports of campaign signs closer to voting booths than regulations allow, and 15 to 20 complaints that television sets at some polling sites showed campaign commercials during voting. Many television stations have a policy not to run political ads on Election Day, but Dunlap's media adviser, Andrew Cunningham, said he did not know whether the commercials were live or on videotape.

Both alleged election violations were enough for Dunlap to promise she would contest Vincent's victory.

"There's no way he can win outright. I've been out there. . . . He's unpopular and ill-thought-of by the community," Dunlap said.

Dunlap pointed to a 1987 City Council election that was thrown out by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge for voter fraud. In that case the judge ruled that Vincent, in support of another candidate, had invaded voters' rights to ballot secrecy. The state Fair Political Practices Commission fined Vincent $16,000. Vincent denied any wrongdoing.

"I'm concerned about these new (voting) irregularities as a citizen and as a resident," Dunlap said. But she stopped short of accusing either Vincent or Hardeman of election violations.

Hardeman, who said his main campaign goal was to rid the city of Eckles, came in third in the three-way contest. But he has already turned his sights to 1996, when he said he plans to run for the Assembly seat occupied by Curtis R. Tucker Jr. Tucker will be forced out by the state's term limits, leaving the race open for local candidates, which may include Vincent as well.

Hardeman said that to win in 1996, he will have to improve his fund raising. "With the potential numbers of candidates (for the Assembly seat), I'll need $150,000 at least," he said.

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