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Inglewood Rejects Election Oversight

March 19, 2003|Jean Merl | Times Staff Writer

Amid accusations that Inglewood Mayor Roosevelt Dorn was risking the city's image to advance his own political agenda, the City Council on Tuesday decisively rejected three Dorn proposals to oversee the city clerk's handling of upcoming municipal elections.

Citing concerns from constituents and candidates in the April 1 elections that they could not get a fair shake if recently seated City Clerk Yvonne Horton remains in charge of the balloting, Dorn has proposed asking the U.S. Department of Justice to monitor the elections. He also proposed having the city administrator oversee processing of absentee ballots and to have either the county registrar-recorder or the Inglewood Police Department watch the polls.

The heated debate over the proposed resolutions -- all of which drew three opposing votes from the five-member council -- touched on the deep political divisions in the city between supporters of Dorn and those of his predecessor, Ed Vincent, now a Democratic state senator.

Horton, the wife of Assemblyman Jerome Horton (D-Inglewood), a Vincent ally, won a special election in January. She is running for a full four-year term this spring, and her opponents include Inglewood School Board Member Gloria Gray, whom Dorn has endorsed. Horton and the mayor have endorsed opposing candidates in school board and council races as well.

"It's a conflict of interest, no question about it," Dorn said during a break in the council meeting. He correctly predicted he would not have enough votes to pass the resolutions but said he pressed them to "bring forward the concerns that my constituents have expressed to me."

At a news conference outside City Hall earlier in the day, a group of candidates and civic leaders called for Justice Department and other oversight and contended Horton was biased and unprepared for the job. Horton's supporters, however, said there was no evidence of that.

Inglewood's elections are run by a private firm, with the city clerk's oversight.

"All our elections have always been pretty clean," said Councilman Jose Fernandez, adding that Dorn's call for oversight unfairly implied wrongdoing on Horton's part.

"This lady has not done anything illegal," Fernandez said. "She's just trying to do her job."

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