By Emilie St. John
COMPTON — City Clerk Alita Godwin announced her retirement during the Nov. 15 City Council meeting.
“After more than 40 years of employment with the city of Compton, I have decided to retire as of Dec. 31, 2022,” Godwin said.
She made the announcement to clear up speculation that she was not retiring due to health reasons but that her time working for the city had come to an end.
She began her career working under former City Clerk Charles Davis in 1982 while studying at Los Angeles Harbor College. She worked her way up to deputy city clerk. After Davis retired, she was appointed to the position in 2004 and elected the following year.
Her entire career of public service has been in the city clerk’s office.
Godwin said she would be submitting her official resignation to the mayor and council so they can begin the process of deciding what to do with her seat.
The council has the option of appointing someone to replace Godwin or holding a special election, which could cost in excess of $1 million considering voters just approved a ballot measure that cancels the April 2023 municipal election.
Longtime resident Cynthia Macon weighed in on the prospect of a new city clerk being seated.
“For far too long, 50 years and counting, the city clerk position has been under just two officials, Charles Davis and Alita Godwin, and marred by allegations of election tampering and fraud rigging elections, un-purged voters rolls, a lack of transparency, refusal to provide key documents, cover-ups, editing of video and city records, city seal and funds theft, and now add conspiracy and collusion to rush the swearing in of controversial appointees,” Macon said. “The time is past due for change back to a … credible administration and modernization of antiquated methods in the municipal clerk’s office.”
Macon wants the process to be fair to all residents who wish to compete for the soon-to-be vacant seat.
“Please no rigged replacements either,” Macon added.
The current leadership in the city is filled with appointments made under Mayor Emma Sharif.
Councilwoman Deidra Duhart was appointed in April after the resignation of Michelle Chambers and Lillie Darden was appointed to replace Sharif after she was elected mayor.
City Attorney Eric Perrodin was appointed after the resignation of Damon Brown.
One resident would like to see the council hold a special election in spite of the cost.
“Mrs. Godwin’s retirement announcement is cause for a special election,” Skyy Fisher said. “On the date of her retirement there will be four appointed officials without the voters having their voice heard.
“Council needs to negotiate with the county on the cost and find the money to let the voters have their say on who represents them. An appointment would give whoever is selected, an advantage in a future election.”
Voters earlier this month passed a charter amendment that would consolidate elections with the state and remove the primary nomination period and only hold one election in a “winner take all” scenario.
The council has given no indication of which path they will take.
Emilie St. John is a freelance journalist covering the areas of Carson, Compton, Inglewood and Willowbrook. Send tips to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.