G. Vernon Bennett

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Acting Mayor
G. Vernon Bennett
in October 1941

Guy Vernon Bennett (February 17, 1880 – July 31, 1968), also known as G. Vernon Bennett, was superintendent of schools in Pomona, California; a professor of education at the University of Southern California, and a Los Angeles city councilman from the 10th District from 1935 to 1951. A liberal, he was defeated for reelection after seventeen years in office in the wake of arrest on a morals charge. He was a Democrat.


Bennett was born in Waverly, Iowa, on February 17, 1880. He had five siblings, Edward Allen Bennett of Los Angeles, Richard Bennett of Tacoma, Washington, Belle Campbell of Guelph, Ontario, Zellia Campbell of Los Angeles and William M. Bennett.[1][2] Bennett was married and had at least one son.[3] He was a Kiwanian.[4]

While a city councilman, Bennett, then 65, was taken into custody in Lincoln Park on October 2, 1950, by two police officers who "took a statement from him at the Highland Park Police Station." A complaint was later issued by the city attorney's office "charging two morals counts."[5] Bennett pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace," and a charge of lewd vagrancy was dismissed "in the interests of justice." He paid a fine of $100.[6]

Bennett, who was then living in Pasadena, died July 31, 1968, at the age of 88.[1][7]

Educational career[edit]

Bennett was working in Gridley, California, before taking up his position as superintendent of schools in Pomona in July 1914, replacing the retiring schools chief, W.P. Murphy.[3][8] Near the end of his first school year, he responded to a statement by University of California President Benjamin Ide Wheeler, who had declared vocational training to be "an attempt of aristocracy to keep children of the laborer in the working class so they couldn't better themselves."[9] Bennett said:

That sort of talk is bosh. ... If teaching boys how to do interior decorating, plumbing, lathe work and cabinet-making and teaching girls how to make hats and dresses and custard pies is an aristocratic attempt to tie a millstone around the neck of genius, then let us become more aristocratic. If we can keep the boys and girls off the street and reduce the number of street-corner loafers by teaching some useful trades in our schools I think it is our duty to do so.[9]

Bennett ordained an anti-slang week in April 1915 and ordered that anybody who used slang in Pomona schools be penalized. "I'd like to eliminate such phrases as 'hand somebody a lemon,' 'cut it out,' 'the once-over,' and a lot of similar expressions," he said.[10]

In 1919 he was appointed head of the local office of the Federal Board for Vocational Education,[11] an agency that retrained returning U.S. servicement.[12] In October 1920, Bennett and Nicholas Ricciardi, director of the vocational office in San Francisco, were attacked by the James B. Gresham Post No. 3, Veterans of Foreign Wars, for, among other things, "repressive measures." A statement charged Bennett with being "out of harmony with every man engaged in Federal board work in this city."[13]

Bennett, who held a doctorate of philosophy, was hired to be an associate professor of education at the University of Southern California, effective with the fall semester, 1926.[14][15]

Political career[edit]

Bennett attempted a run for the State Superintendent of Public Instruction in 1934, but lost. In February 1935, still a college professor and living at 3017-1/2 Hoover, he took out a nomination petition for the City Council seat in the 10th District, campaigning against the incumbent, E. Snapper Ingram. Bennett was supported by the End Poverty in California movement (EPIC) and opposed by the Los Angeles Times. Other candidates in the 10th District primaries were Lenna G. Walradt, a lecturer; Allan M. Rose, employed by the Civilian Conservation Corps, Karl Euper, "in the insurance and real estate business," and Austin L. Tournoux, "in the publishing business"; he had been a member of the California State Assembly in 1933.[16][17][18] Bennett received 5,974 votes to Ingram's 5,810, and they faced each other in the finals.[19] In that race, Bennett won by a vote of 8,794 to 8,064.[20]

In 1937 Bennett ran as an incumbent against George McLain but without the support of EPIC.[21] He won in the primary, 8,065 to 5,306.[22]

He lost in another bid for state superintendent of public instruction in 1938. Bennett was known for supporting "liberal" measures in the city council and had the support of Mayor Fletcher Bowron and activist Clifford Clinton; he was concentrating on issues of slum clearance and supported the thirty dollars every Thursday movement.[23] He was the only council member to vote against an April 1939 resolution urging the Dies Committee on Un-American Activities to investigate Communist influence in Los Angeles "as soon as possible."[24] That month he won in the primary election, 9,526 votes to 2,192 for Willard E. Badham, 1,620 for Solly F. Smith and 804 for Allan M. Rose.[25]

In 1941, Bennett faced S. Frederic Smith (the Times choice) and Mary A. Van Dame.[26] Bennett won, 9,287 votes against 3,806 for Smith and 1,071 for Van Dame.[27] By that time, Bennett had joined the "anti-Bowron bloc," and when the city council was reorganized in July, he was elected president of the council by a vote of 9 to 6, replacing Robert L. Burns.[28] As council president, he became acting mayor when Bowron was out of town.[29]

Bennett was elected chairman of the Los Angeles County Democratic Central Committee in September 1942, unseating Claude L. Welch.[30]

In late 1941, political reformer Clifford E. Clinton had accused Bennett, with other councilmen, of having misused city automobiles, asking for a grand jury investigation.[31] The issue resurfaced in 1943, an election year, when Council Member Parley P. Christensen accused Bennett of having used a city automobile for an "unauthorized and illegal" trip to Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1937 and on his return, "presenting the city with a bill for gasoline and oil." Bennett denied the charge.[32] In the 1943 election, Bennett was endorsed by the Times, which said that "Although inclined when first elected toward ultra-liberal views, years of practical experience have tempered Bennett's convictions." Bennett won election in the primary, 5,510 votes to 3,718 for Vernon Kilpatrick and 1,573 for George W. Barnard.[33][34]

Bennett made news in January 1944 when he urged that a woman be appointed to a vacancy on the Water and Power Commission, though "he had no particular person in mind."[35]

He was re-elected at the primary in April 1945 by 12,207 votes to 2,327 for William L. Biber, a "well-to-do used-car lot owner taking his first fling at politics." Bennett was endorsed by the Times.[36][37][38]

The 1947 election was highlighted by a Los Angeles Times attack on Bennett's championing of a police union, but despite that and an accusation that he had appeared "as the supporter of radical movements or legislation." the Times endorsed him over his opponents — Bertrand R. Bratton, a certified public accountant, and Charles Downs, a builder who had been a City Council member in 1925 but was removed from office that year upon conviction of receiving a bribe from a developer.[39] Bennett won in the April primary with 12,173 votes to 2,834 for Downs and 1,843 for Bratton (four precincts not reported).[40] Two years later, in 1949, Bennett was reelected without opposition.[41]

In 1951, running in the shadow of a morals charge (above) and deprived of a Los Angeles Times endorsement, Bennett was defeated for reelection after seventeen years in office. In the primary he came in third, with 3,835 votes, compared to 5,301 for State Assemblyman Vernon Kilpatrick and 5,077 for musician Charles Navarro. Cafe operator George R. Hubbard had 2,250 votes and Charles Downs, running for the last time for his old seat, 1,423.[42][43] Bennett sued Navarro on the grounds that the latter "did not give his full name as Charles Navarro Guarino," but the case was dismissed by Superior Judge Joseph W. Vickers.[44] Bennett's last major vote in the council was on June 26, 1951, in favor of federally subsidized housing projects.[45]


"I'd favor using ... the old expressions of the merry knights. Ods bodikins, Ods fish, gadzooks, etc., would seem to me more acceptable than some of the slang we hear, and I don't know but that I had rather hear somebody mention having 'a merrie joust' than to hear some baseball player say that he had been 'beaned' by a 'fade-away.'" (April 1915.)[10]

"I have for a long time failed to see any sense in teaching German here. English is our language, and I think it is nonsensical to spend so much time on something from which we get so little practical good." (December 1917.)[46]

"I. purposefulness of life. The last aim of teaching to be discussed is one that affects deeply the lives of all boys and girls of the adolescent period. ..." (1919.)[47]


Sources: Library of Congress Online Catalog and Amazon.com

  • Junior High School, 1919, 1926
  • Debate Questions on U.S. History, 1918
  • "A Primer of School Finance, before 1923
  • Problems of the Elementary School Principal, 1928
  • Social Civics, 1928
  • Vocational Education of Junior College Grade, 1928
  • Occupational Exploratory Courses for Junior High School (Grades 7, 8, 9), co-editor, 1929
  • Legalistic Pursuits, 1931
  • Occupational Orientation, co-editor, 1931
  • Exploring the World of Work; a Guidebook to Occupations, co-author, 1937
  • Grant to Eisenhower; Political Giveaways Unlimited, 1956

Newspaper article


Access to the Los Angeles Times links requires the use of a library card.

  1. ^ a b Chronological Record of Los Angeles City Officials: 1850–1938, compiled under direction of the Municipal Reference Library, City Hall, Los Angeles, March 1938 (reprinted 1966)
  2. ^ "Edward Bennett, 85, Dies at Home," Los Angeles Times, June 26, 1950, page B-8
  3. ^ a b "New Superintendent: Pomona's School Head Arrives to Take Charge," Los Angeles Times, July 31, 1914, page II-8
  4. ^ "Kiwanis Clubs Back Meeting," Los Angeles Times, October 2, 1929, page A-7
  5. ^ "Councilman Bennett Faces Morals Counts," Los Angeles Times, October 4, 1950, page 22
  6. ^ "Councilman Bennett Gets $100 Fine as Disturber," Los Angeles Times, November 28, 1950, page A-3
  7. ^ Social Security death index
  8. ^ "Takes a Bride," Los Angeles Times, August 5, 1910, page II-8
  9. ^ a b "Useful Trade Best Defense," Los Angeles Times, April 10, 1915, page II-9
  10. ^ a b "Ods Bodkins, Me Lad, Desist Thy Slanging," Los Angeles Times, April 26, 1915, page II-6
  11. ^ "Choose Pomona Man, Los Angeles Times, May 31, 1919, page II-12
  12. ^ "Wounded Now Students," Los Angeles Times, October 5, 1919, page V-20
  13. ^ "Assails Work for Disabled," Los Angeles Times, October 23, 1920, page I-8
  14. ^ "Special Classes for Teachers to Open Downtown," Los Angeles Times, September 17, 1924, page A-8
  15. ^ "U.S.C. Staff Augmented," Los Angeles Times, July 16, 1926, page A-8
  16. ^ "Ingram Aids Vital Works," Los Angeles Times, March 23, 1935, page A-14
  17. ^ "City Ballot Places Won," Los Angeles Times, February 19, 1935, page 5
  18. ^ "Kersey for State Head of Schools," Los Angeles Times, August 26, 1934, page 15
  19. ^ "City's Primary Vote," Los Angeles Times, April 4, 1935, page 2
  20. ^ "Complete Semi-official Election Returns," Los Angeles Times, May 9, 1935, page 2
  21. ^ "The Political Bandwagon," Los Angeles Times, March 8, 1937, page A-4
  22. ^ "Complete City Primary Returns," Los Angeles Times, April 8, 1937, page 2
  23. ^ "Two Ex-Councilmen Seek Sanborn's Seat," Los Angeles Times, March 21, 1939, page 12
  24. ^ "Council Asks Red Inquiry," Los Angeles Times, April 29, 1939, page A-16
  25. ^ "Primary Returns," Los Angeles Times, April 6, 1939, page 11
  26. ^ ";Times' Recommendations for Today's Primary," Los Angeles Times, April 1, 1941, page 7
  27. ^ "Returns From Tuesday's Primary," Los Angeles Times, April 3, 1941, page 4
  28. ^ "Councilmen Elect Bennett," Los Angeles Times, July 2, 1941, page A-1
  29. ^ "Bowron Leaves on Trip to Chile," Los Angeles Times, September 7, 1941, page 13
  30. ^ "Welch Unseated by Democrats," Los Angeles Times, September 9, 1942, page A-1
  31. ^ "Clinton Again Assails Joy Riding by Officials," Los Angeles Times, November 6, 1941, page A-2
  32. ^ "Bennett Trip Under Attack," Los Angeles Times, February 27, 1943, page A-1
  33. ^ "Council Slate Approved," Los Angeles Times, April 4, 1943, page A-6
  34. ^ "Election Returns," Los Angeles Times, April 9, 1943, page 18
  35. ^ "Woman Urged for Vacant Post on Water Board," Los Angeles Times, January 22, 1944, page 7
  36. ^ "'Times' Recommends Election of These Candidates For 15 Council Seats," Los Angeles Times, April 1, 1945, page 2
  37. ^ "Mayor Bowron Elected; Sewer Bonds Winning," Los Angeles Times, April 4, 1945, page 8
  38. ^ "City Primary Returns," Los Angeles Times, April 6, 1945, page 6
  39. ^ "City Council Choices Made," Los Angeles Times, May 30, 1947, page 2
  40. ^ "Election Returns," Los Angeles Times, April 3, 1947, page5
  41. ^ "City Primary Election Is Important," Los Angeles Times, April 3, 1949, page A-4
  42. ^ "Outlook in City's Council Contest," Los Angeles Times, April 7, 1951, page 2
  43. ^ "Election Returns," Los Angeles Times, April 5, 1951, page 9
  44. ^ "Court Dismisses Suit of Councilman Bennett," Los Angeles Times, April 26, 1951, page 20.
  45. ^ "Council Votes for Low-Rent Housing," Los Angeles Times, June 27, 1951
  46. ^ "To Drop German," Los Angeles Times, December 30, 1917, page II-1
  47. ^ From The Junior High School, Lexic.us website

External links[edit]

Preceded by
E. Snapper Ingram
Los Angeles City Council
10th District

Succeeded by
Charles Navarro