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Cunningham Rumor Gains Strength : Rev. H.H. Brookins Says Councilman Told Him of Plan to Quit

Times Staff Writer

A prominent clergyman who has guided the political careers of a number of black Los Angeles politicians said Wednesday that City Councilman Dave Cunningham has told him that he intends to resign from the post he has held for the past 13 years.

The Rev. H.H. Brookins, a bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and a close political ally of Cunningham and Mayor Tom Bradley, told The Times that Cunningham plans to leave the City Council “for personal and family reasons.”

“From all indications, he doesn’t plan to change his mind,” said Brookins, who said he may run for the 10th Council District office if it becomes vacant.

Brookins, 61, helped the councilman launch his political career in 1973, when Cunningham succeeded Bradley as the representative for the 10th District--a Southwest Los Angeles area that is 44% black under the council’s newly adopted redistricting plan.

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Brookins’ assertion that the resignation will occur was the most direct report yet that Cunningham plans to leave his $53,266-a-year post. It comes from a community figure who has guided or influenced the careers of such black politicians as Bradley, City Councilmen Gilbert Lindsay and Robert Farrell, state Sen. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles), presidential candidate Jesse Jackson and Cunningham.

Sources at City Hall and in the 10th District have said Cunningham is departing to take a job with Cranston Securities, an Ohio-based investment firm that does municipal bond business in Los Angeles and other cities. A top executive with Cranston has said the company has not hired Cunningham or made him a job offer but would consider it if he left the council.

As chairman of the council’s Grant, Housing and Community Development Committee, Cunningham is one of the key city officials for municipal bonds, one of the Cranston firm’s main lines of business.

Brookins, who said he met with the councilman this week, said Cunningham told him that he decided to resign a month ago to join a private company and that he had intended to stay in office for only 10 years.

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“He did not say when (he would leave) . . . only the indication that it was final in his decision to do it,” said Brookins, who did not disclose what firm Cunningham would join.

The 51-year-old Cunningham, who has steadfastly refused comment about his rumored departure, ignored a reporter’s questions Wednesday about Brookins’ statements.

One factor that reportedly has kept Cunningham silent about his plans is the redistricting battle in City Council and the need for his vote, sources said. After the council’s vote Wednesday approving a new redistricting plan, which still must be reviewed by the mayor, Cunningham met privately with Council President Pat Russell.

But Russell told reporters that the brief meeting had nothing to do with Cunningham’s future plans, and she added that Cunningham did not indicate any intention to resign.

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Bradley said he also has not spoken to Cunningham, although he confirmed that he had spoken with Brookins. Bradley denied, however, that he has urged the clergyman to run for a council district that the mayor once represented.

“I simply have spoken to him about the (Cunningham) rumor, but it’s all rumor up to this point,” Bradley said.

Brookins told The Times that during his meeting with the mayor he expressed interest in running for the council seat if Cunningham should leave, but he said he did not seek Bradley’s support.

“I did not seek an endorsement from him, did not ask for one and he did not offer one,” Brookins said.

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However, he added that a number of people, including some state legislators from Los Angeles whose names he would not disclose, have asked him to consider the job.

“I am seriously considering it in light of my other responsibilities which come first,” Brookins said. “If I can manage the two assignments, then I will be a serious candidate and run for it.”

Brookins lives in Los Angeles, but his pastoral and administrative duties as an A.M.E. bishop include overseeing churches in Arkansas and Oklahoma, he said. If he does run, it would be the first time that Brookins has campaigned for public office.

In addition to Brookins, a number of other names have surfaced as possible candidates if Cunningham should leave.

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They include former state Sen. Nate Holden, who narrowly lost a race against Cunningham in 1978; school board President Rita Walters; Myrlie Evers, the widow of civil rights activist Medgar Evers, and Homer Broome Jr., vice president of the Board of Public Works.

Also mentioned as possible candidates are Marguerite Archie-Hudson, a member of the Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees; Cunningham deputies Greg Irish and Dennis Nishikawa; Kerman Maddox, deputy manager for Bradley’s gubernatorial campaign; state Sen. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles); Truman Jacques, organizer of the Watts Summer Festival, and businessman Skip Cooper.

One prospective candidate, Coy Sallis, even showed up in City Council this week to tell reporters that he will seek the office if Cunningham leaves.


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