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Franklin Wins Inglewood Council Seat

Because of legal challenges, it was the fifth vote since November.

September 17, 2003|Jean Merl | Times Staff Writer

Labor leader Ralph L. Franklin on Tuesday defeated former Councilwoman Lorraine M. Johnson for the District 4 seat on the Inglewood City Council, regaining a post he had held for a month before a judge in July ordered a new election.

Election night returns put the tally at 961 votes, or 77%, for Franklin and 283, or 23%, for Johnson.

"Our taxpayer voters have spoken. It's settled once and for all," Franklin said. "I'm truly blessed and excited to be taking on this responsibility again."

Johnson watched the returns counted at City Hall, but declined to comment.

Tuesday's balloting marked the fifth time since November that voters of the district, which covers southeast Inglewood, were asked to choose a council member. Johnson, appointed to the vacant post last September, ran in a special election to finish the term in November, then won the seat in a runoff early this year. But when the seat came up for a full, four-year term in April, Johnson failed to make the runoff ballot, finishing third behind community activist Mike Stevens and Franklin, who finished second.

Franklin went on to win the June runoff, with nearly 70% of the vote. By that time, however, Johnson had sued, contending Stevens had not been a district resident at filing time and therefore was ineligible to run. A Los Angeles Superior Court judge agreed in July, overturning the election and ordering a new one.

Franklin had to step down. A divided City Council refused to re-seat Johnson, leaving the district without a representative.

The court-ordered election became the major issue in the race. Franklin, 52, criticized Johnson, 44, as causing "considerable and unnecessary" expense to the city and aggravation to the voters. Johnson said her main goal was to see that voters got an honest election between two legitimate district residents; she said she hoped her legal battles would discourage others from lying about their residency to run.

Franklin, endorsed by a political faction headed by state Sen. Ed Vincent and Assemblyman Jerome Horton, both Democrats from Inglewood, raised nearly $112,000 for his campaign. Johnson raised about $45,000, according to campaign finance records.

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