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New Inglewood Councilwoman in Incompatible Office Position

Gloria Gray from West Basin Water website.

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March 29, 2023

By Brian Hews

Gloria Gray has been in public service for decades; an Inglewood resident, she served from 1995 to 2003 on the board of the Inglewood Unified School District and is a former executive board member of the L.A. County Democratic Party Central Committee 51st Assembly District.

Ms. Gray is a longtime elected boardmember of West Basin Municipal Water District; she is on two West Basin committees, Finance and Administrative and Water Policy and Legislation, which she chairs.

She serves District II, which, according to West Basin’s website, serves portions of the cities of Gardena and Hawthorne, and the unincorporated Los Angeles County areas of Ladera Heights, View Park-Windsor Hills, West Athens, and Westmont.

Ms. Gray’s District II map showing much of Inglewood in her district.

The district also serves Inglewood. 

Under Government Code Section 1099, a person may not simultaneously hold two offices if there is any significant clash of duties or loyalties between public offices. To find that two offices are incompatible, a conflict doesn’t need to actually occur; it is sufficient that a conflict may occur in the regular operation of the offices.

Where two offices held by one official are legally incompatible, adjudicated through a quo warranto action, as soon as the official assumes the second office, they must immediately vacate the first office.

Former Water Replenishment District Director and Carson Councilman Albert Robles was embroiled in a quo warranto incompatible office lawsuit with L.A. District Attorney Jackie Lacey in 2018, centering around Robles holding both the WRD seat and the Carson position.

A quo warranto action may only be filed with the approval of the California Attorney General; to obtain the A.G.’s approval, a private person or a local agency must file an action – with all supporting documents – prepared by a licensed attorney.

The party who files the action with the A.G. is called the “relator;” the responding party is called the “defendant.”

The action must be properly served with the defendant given 15 to 20 days to respond; the relator may then file a reply within ten days. 

The AG’s Office evaluates the facts and the law to determine whether to grant “leave to sue” and will render a decision at the discretion of the A.G.

In Robles’s case, former D.A. Lacey argued that the jurisdictions of the WRD and Carson overlap; therefore, there was a “potential” for a significant clash of duties and loyalties between the two offices “at some point in the future.”

Robles called the action a vendetta by Lacey and subsequently argued that Carson did not have a municipal water department, did not have groundwater pumping rights and did not sell recycled water.

Robles lost and had to relinquish his WRD seat, which he had held since 1992.

Just a few weeks ago, even though Ms. Gray serves on West Basin District II, a district Inglewood is a part of, and the fact she serves on the Water Policy and Legislation committee lobbying lawmakers in the name of West Basin, Ms. Gray ran for and won a city council seat in Inglewood.

Ms. Gray beat incumbent George Dodson by 926 votes, 1,902 to Dodson’s 976, placing Ms. Gray in an obvious – and blatant – incompatible office position. 

Ironically, her website noted that if elected, her City Council tenure “would focus on governmental transparency and accountability.”

In order to remove Ms. Gray, a private person or a public agency must file an action with the California AG, but given previous opines by the A.G., if an action is filed, current AG Rob Bonta will likely grant leave to sue Ms. Gray.

Several emails into Ms. Gray went unanswered.