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By John Earl
Surf City Voice
Editor’s Note: This is the first of a 3 part story
Since 1957 a vote of the people has decided who would be the Huntington Beach City Attorney. Since 1978 no incumbent holding that office has lost an election. Gail Hutton, who defeated incumbent city attorney Don Bonfa in the city election that year, easily remained in office until her retirement 24 years later in 2002.
Her replacement, Jennifer McGrath, was elected to the office next with 48.2 percent of the vote in a race against three opponents, but she ran unopposed in her 2006 reelection campaign.
Next November she will have one opponent listed on the ballot, T. Gabe Houston, who officially signed his candidate’s papers at the City Clerk’s office on Aug. 6, the last day to file.
Like other City Attorney challengers, Houston may also end up as election fodder. But his late entry reveals a serious flaw in the Huntington Beach City Charter—despite nine months of work by the City’s Charter Review Commission that recommend reforms—and exposes the hidden attempts (and not so hidden attempts) by various members of the Huntington Beach City Council to gain political power by manipulating the reform process for better or worse.