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Runoff Ordered in Disputed Inglewood Election

July 22, 2003|Jose Cardenas | Times Staff Writer

A judge ordered that a new election be held for an Inglewood City Council seat after ruling that one of the candidates in a June runoff did not legally live in the 4th District, lawyers said Monday.

The decision, handed down Friday by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, was prompted by a lawsuit brought by incumbent Councilwoman Lorraine Johnson, who finished third in April's general election.

Johnson accused community activist Mike Stevens -- who finished second -- of not living in the district he sought to represent.

In her lawsuit, Johnson argued that she, not Stevens, should have faced labor leader Ralph Franklin in the runoff, which Franklin won.

The judge nullified the election and ordered that a new runoff between Johnson and Franklin be held within 70 days.

Fredrick Woocher, the attorney who represented Johnson, said the action allows Johnson to serve on the council until the new election is held.

Franklin could not be reached for comment.

According to Woocher, Stevens moved from his home in the 1st District to a friend's house in the 4th District in November.

Woocher argued that Stevens did not legally establish the new house as his residence because, among other things, he did not change the address on his driver's license or receive mail there.

Stevens' attorney, Richard Knickerbocker, said the judge ignored other testimony, including the fact that Steven had signed a rental agreement at the new house and his wife testified that Stevens had moved out of her house.

"He didn't change his driver's license. So what?" Knickerbocker said.

Knickerbocker said Stevens would probably appeal the decision.

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