Torrance Clerk Won't Run in March

Times Staff Writer

City Clerk Donna Babb, who is being investigated by the Los Angeles County district attorney for alleged misuse of city funds for personal and political purposes, announced this week that she will not seek reelection in the municipal election next March.

Babb, who had said she would run again, would not specify what prompted her change of heart. In a written statement, she said only that a recent two-week vacation in Hawaii had allowed her time for "inspiration and reflective thought, which resulted in my making a decision to make a major change in my life style over the next few months which will preclude my running for reelection in March of 1986.

"This is something that, in a sense, has been on the back burner for the last few years and I'm happy that commitment time has arrived."

Candidate Surprised

Former City Councilman Don Wilson, the only announced candidate for city clerk, said he is surprised by Babb's statement but said he understands what she has been going through.

"She has been under a lot of pressure," Wilson said, alluding to the investigation and to tension between Babb and some of her staff. "It would have been a tough election for her.

Filing opens in December for the March election.

Babb said she will complete her term and run the election, which also includes races for the mayor's office, three city council seats and the city treasurer's post.

Deputy Complained

Babb's problems began in February when Deputy City Clerk Dora Hong made the allegations of misuse of funds in a memo to City Manager LeRoy Jackson. Hong accused Babb in the memo of using city funds to have personal items framed, of padding expense vouchers and having staff members do personal and political work.

In addition, Hong claimed that Babb violated the civil rights of some employees by requiring staff members to pray with her before a staff meeting and tried to impose her religious beliefs on them.

Babb has acknowledged that she may have erred in the prayer episode, but denied any wrongdoing with city funds.

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