Just two months after electing a mayor in November and with little fanfare, Sunday, Inglewood ushered in a new mayor to serve for the next four years-bringing an end to what has got to be a record in elections held in a year’s time for the city of just over 100,000.
In one of the nastiest political races yet, former Santa Monica police chief and Ladera Heights resident James Butts finally-after three previous elections and with the support and financial backing of disgraced former Inglewood mayor Roosevelt Dorn-prevailed against outgoing mayor and former city councilmember Daniel Tabor to win the upset of the decade.
While Butts was unable to beat Tabor in previous elections, he managed to pull 56% percent of the vote from the 6,780 people who bothered to vote in the city of 112,180.
While I am just as bothered by the continued low voter turnout in the races that really matter, I am more bothered by the continued hypocrisy exuding from Black voters.
Theoretically Butts shouldn’t have beat Tabor-let’s face it, he hadn’t managed to pull it off in any of the other previous elections. But when faced with accomplishing the impossible instead of sticking to the issues and in a show of clear desperation, Butts used the fact that Tabor had hired an ex-offender to work for him at city hall-as a negative.
While I know more elected officials who tell everyone else that they should hire ex-offenders, I know very few elected officials that would actually do it.
Now in a community where the number one issue facing residents is jobs and access to them and where almost half of all released prisoners in California return to Los Angeles County that should have never worked-but it did.
Instead of Tabor’s hiring of an ex-offender being hailed as an elected official actually walking the walk instead of jut talking the talk, it became a liability for him, eventually costing him his office.
I am not easily impressed by elected officials these days. There are very few that I even actually like, even less that I admire. Tabor’s willingness to hire someone who had a felony said to me that this was a man that wasn’t just about winning a popularity contest, that when it came down to it, he knew that the best way to lead was by setting an example. A message he brought to employers looking to come into Inglewood and one that should have resonated with voters especially considering that Inglewood has the second largest parole population in the county. And even if they aren’t voting, the reality is that they are more than likely sleeping on the couches of and in the bedrooms of the ones who are voting. Keep it real.
Furthermore, ousting a mayor for hiring an ex-offender doesn’t send the message to Inglewood business owners including Madison Square Gardens who is in the process of finalizing the purchase of the Forum sports arena that hiring felons is a good thing-which is confusing to me because I thought we wanted ex-offenders to have a second chance. Wait–isn’t that one of the main reasons why we supported the election of Attorney General Kamala Harris and why we hailed President Barack Obama’s support of Michael Vick’s employment with the Philadelphia Eagles?
We’ve got to stop being tricked into voting against our best interests-either we support second chances for ex-offenders or we don’t. It’s as simple as that. And if we do, when someone as important as the mayor of a city leads by example and actually hires one, instead viewing it as a negative, we need to champion them sending the message to other elected officials that this is what the people want.
Instead now the stage has been set for the next four years as it relates to the support, or rather lack of support for jobs for ex-offenders with Inglewood’s incoming mayor James Butts, because there is no going back now. While he may be amenable to hiring former Mayor Roosevelt Dorn-who plead guilty to a misdemeanor-as the city manager, he’s made it clear that he is not in support of hiring ex-offenders with felonies.
And that my friends is what happens when misinformed voters happen to good candidates.
For what it’s worth, thank you Mayor Tabor and please don’t stop fighting for jobs for ex-offenders.
Based in Los Angeles, Jasmyne A. Cannick, 33, writes about the intersection of race, politics, and culture. She can reached at www.jasmynecannick.com.