INGLEWOOD, Calif. (2UG) – West Basin water board members have called on their colleague to “do the right thing” and step down from her elected seat after winning a runoff election for the Inglewood City Council District 1 seat.
West Basin board members Harold Williams, Scott Houston, and Desi Alvarez and community members have called for the resignation of Gloria Gray after the agency received legal advice that she is likely holding incompatible seats.
“Based on the attorney general’s opinions and the precedent, it is substantially likely that it is,” said Joe Byrne, general counsel for the agency.
State law, however, indicates that an elected official holding incompatible offices is deemed to have forfeited their first office upon acceding to the second.
“I think as general counsel has basically summarized, in all cases where you’ve got two offices where there is essentially overlapping jurisdictions, they have always been found to be incompatible,” Alvarez said. “I think that is something that is out there and needs to be considered. At this point, I think that Director Gray will look at the overall situation and I think ultimately will do the right thing.”
West Basin is currently working on its budget for the year, which means setting water rates for its member agencies, including Inglewood. Because Gray serves on both governing boards, she is effectively on both sides of the rate negotiations.
“I think that would be one of the issues that I personally would have major issues with at this time,” Houston said.
Board member Don Dear changed his position after telling the Daily Breeze last week that “If there’s no conflict of interest, it’s fine. If there is, then she’ll have to quit one of the jobs”.
Gray remains defiant in refusing to step down.
“I appreciate the comments today, but, again, I was elected,” she said. “At the moment, I will continue to serve my constituents.”
Between the two elected seats, Gray would net in excess of $150,000 annually.
Gray campaigned on transparency and being an independent voice for Inglewood residents despite running for both seats on the November 8 ballot.
Two Inglewood residents spoke in support of Gray remaining on the board. One was identified as Mae Wood and the other person’s identity was not disclosed.
Video of the April 24 board of directors meeting has not published to the water agencies website or YouTube channel to determine who the person is.
Gray has made no mention of the controversy of serving on both boards to Inglewood residents during the last two city council meetings held on April 17 and April 24 during her weekly closing remarks.
Gray will hold a community swearing in April 29 with Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass scheduled to swear her in on the south lawn of Inglewood City Hall.
The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office has removed multiple elected officials from office for doing the same as Gray. The DA’s office says it is more focused on using resources to “fight crime” and not seek permission to sue to have Gray removed from Attorney General Rob Bonta whose office issued the right to sue earlier this year to remove an elected official from La Puente.
This is not the transparency Inglewood residents voted for.
Jason Henry (Daily Breeze) contributed to this report.
Emilie St. John is a contributing writer for 2UrbanGirls.com and the Los Angeles Wave newspaper