By John W. Davis
INGLEWOOD — In a chic room decked out in red, white and blue, more than 100 supporters cheered at their first glimpse of Mayor James T. Butts at the Hollywood Park Casino Nov. 6 — a fitting location since Hollywood Park is the center of sports and entertainment development in Inglewood.
They were there to celebrate Butts’ victory in the municipal election. In a field of five candidates, the incumbent Butts, garnered more than 13,000 votes to win his third term in office, a term which he said would “absolutely” be his most important four years in office.
“Although we have commitments from three teams, now we have to finish the building of the stadiums, now we have to finish the last mile systems that get people from the Green Line at Florence and Market over Market Street, over Manchester, over Prairie with stops at the Forum, the (Rams/Chargers) stadium and the (Clippers) basketball arena because that’s going to bring everything together,” Butts told his supporters.
“We also have to continue to ensure that our partners fulfill their development agreement requirements to focus on a 35 percent local hire goal,” Butts added while proudly sharing that Inglewood’s unemployment rate is at a 30-year low, down from 17.5 percent to 4.8 percent.
“We have a lot of opportunities in terms of economic development that we still need to close up the loops,” said District 3 City Councilman Eloy Morales Jr., who attended Butts’ re-election party. “Make sure that everything happens the way that it’s supposed to happen and the city gets what they need out it.
“We should be able to continue to slowly grow our reserve,” added Morales, who as served on the Inglewood City Council since 2003.
Butts also addressed the notion that Inglewood needs rent control.
“We want to study the situation. We’ve heard a lot of anecdotal stories basically on Facebook but very seldom do we see real people because I want to talk to these landlords and verify the situation,” Butts said.
“We’re doing a study and mainly we’re focusing right now on allegations of investors coming in and buying buildings and emptying them out in mass. We’re not going to permit that. We’ll introduce legislation ourselves if we see this happening.
“But when it comes to the rent control situation, we want to see what’s real before we start to mess with market forces,” Butts added.
Butts’ primary challenger in the election, Marc Little, finished second with nearly 4,000 votes. He was surrounded by family and friends at the Hyatt Regency Hotel near LAX, about three miles down Century Boulevard from where Butts held his victory party.
Little, an attorney by trade, said running for mayor was one of the greatest joys of his life.
However, he did not offer his support to the Butts’ administration going forward, instead imploring “we need to have accountability and transparency in our government, so I would be leading the charge for there to be a forensic accounting of our local government.”
Little’s father is extremely proud of his son’s resolve.
Joining Little at his election-night party was his father, Floyd Little, a Syracuse University football legend and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“He felt a calling to help the people of Inglewood because he’s been serving the church here for almost 20 years,” the elder Little said. “He thought when he got the calling that the people were hurting and he heard them and he wanted to do something to help them.”
East on Century, Butts was already looking ahead.
“The next accomplishment is already here,” the mayor said.
The L.A. Philharmonic Youth Orchestra program and the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles are moving to Inglewood.
“This is the most important four years, the most critical time in the history of the city and that’s why continuity is so important both for myself and the council,” Butts said.
The mayor believes the city of Inglewood, with a population of 110,000, can compete with any municipality in the nation.
“What Inglewood has accomplished in less than five years, has only been rivaled by three megacities in the country, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles but it took them a generation to do what we’ve done in less than four years,” Butts said.
Then he used one of his favorite lines.
“The only that’s changed in Inglewood is everything,” he concluded with a smile on his face.
In other election news, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom defeated Republican businessman John Cox in the governor’s race and incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein withstood a challenge from state Sen. Kevin de Leon, to retain her seat in the U.S. Senate.
In local legislative races, Democratic incumbent Karen Bass received 88.23 percent of the vote to easily defeat Republican Ron Bassilian, an email administrator from Los Angeles, in the 37th Congressional District. The district includes Culver City, Inglewood, South L.A. and parts of West L.A.
In the 43rd Congressional District, Democratic incumbent Maxine Waters received 75.84 percent of the vote to defeat Republican Omar Navarro, a small business owner from Torrance. The district includes South Los Angeles, Inglewood, Gardena and Hawthorne.
Democratic incumbent Nanette Barragan defeated Compton Mayor Aja Brown in the 44th Congressional District. Brown announced in March she was withdrawing from the race because she is expecting her first child. The district includes Compton, Watts and part of South Los Angeles.
In the 54th Assembly District, Democratic incumbent Sydney Kamlager-Dove received 63.66 percent of the vote to defeat another Democrat, Tepring Piquado, an educator and scientist from Los Angeles.
In the 59th Assembly District, incumbent Reggie Jones-Sawyer received 68.35 percent of the vote to defeat Leslie Hagan-Morgan, a Democrat and a community leader from Hawthorne. The district includes most of South Los Angeles.
In the 62nd Assembly District, Democratic incumbent Autumn Burke received 81.7 percent of the vote to defeat Republican Al Hernandez, a coach, broker and entrepreneur from Los Angeles.
In the 30th state Senate District, which includes Culver City and South Los Angeles, Democratic incumbent Holly Mitchell was unopposed. So was Assemblyman Mike Gipson in the 64th Assembly District, which includes Compton and Carson.