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Ruling May Lead to a 5th Election for Inglewood Seat Since Last Fall

June 21, 2003|Jean Merl | Times Staff Writer

Setting the stage for a new election to fill a City Council seat in Inglewood, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge tentatively ruled Friday that one of the two contestants in the June 3 runoff was not a legal resident of the council district.

Judge Robert L. Hess said community activist Mike Stevens was not eligible to run for the District 4 seat when he narrowly edged Councilwoman Lorraine M. Johnson in the April 1 primary, denying her a slot on the runoff ballot. Labor leader Ralph Franklin soundly defeated Stevens in the runoff. Meanwhile, Johnson sued Stevens over his residency and other issues.

If the ruling stands, Johnson would face Franklin in a new election -- the fifth for that seat since November.

Johnson, who was appointed in September to fill a vacancy, ran for the unexpired term in the fall and ultimately won the seat in a runoff in January before competing for a new, full term in the spring.

"I'm very happy, and I know I did the right thing" in bringing suit, Johnson said, adding that she expects the judge's ruling to stand. "It's been very difficult, but I believe enough in the city and in my district to fight for it."

Franklin said he is confident he will win again if there is another election but said he believes that asking district voters to again cast ballots would be to the detriment of the city.

"The voters have mandated who they want," Franklin said, adding that he thinks a new election will increase animosity. "But if that is the way the court rules, I am prepared to go forward" with another campaign.

Stevens could not be reached for comment Friday. City Clerk Yvonne Horton said she would not comment until she has seen the judge's written decision.

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