SMRR Endorsements Selected
By Michael Davis City Politics
July 30 - August 5, 2012
Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights has made its endorsements for the various local races taking place in this city. There were no surprises in the selections. However, there was some controversy, which is a SMRR trademark.
At the recent SMRR convention, only endorsements for the council race were handed out, despite there being four positions up for grabs in the November election. The endorsements went to incumbent Gleam Davis and challenger Ted Winterer. But that was the vote of the people, the top-secret 13-member steering committee would fill out the rest of the slate.
A few days later in an undisclosed location at an undisclosed time, the Steering Committee met and decided to back incumbent Terry O’Day and former Councilman Tony Vazquez. There is technically a difference between getting the endorsement from the people and the backing from the Steering Committee, but it is really just a technicality that only hardcore political followers would realize. So, essentially, all four people received the SMRR endorsement.
In the race for state assembly representative, Mayor Richard Bloom was denied just as he was during the endorsement vote prior to the primary. Last time, he refused to even show up to the meeting because he knew he wasn’t going to get SMRR’s support. This time, he came to the event, but the results were only slightly better. Boom’s opponent, Betsy Butler, received 101 votes and Bloom got 90. Neither was good enough to meet the 55 percent threshold needed for an endorsement. The top-secret steering committee did not make a pick.
The school board endorsement went a little quicker. Without even going to the ballots, the people decided to support incumbents Jose Escarce, Maria Leon-Vazquez and Ben Allen after nobody objected to a decision by acclimation.
To the shock of nobody alive, the convention attendees voted to endorse a ballot measure that would change how allowable rent increases are determined. This measure is actually some flimsy scheme created by SMRR to make sure scared renters come out to vote in November.
Also on the issue of rent control, SMRR endorsed incumbent Ilse Rosenstein and challenger Christopher Walton for the Rent Control Board. There are two slots on the board up for grabs, and SMRR loyalists hope the two endorsees will finish ahead of incumbent Robert Kronovet, who shocked the world in 2008 when he became the first landlord, Republican and person without a SMRR endorsement to win a seat on the socialist panel.
This year’s slate of SMRR endorsees is risky. Only two of the four candidates are guaranteed to win—Gleam Davis and Terry O’Day. The other two are going to face tough competition from the likes of education activist Shari Davis and former local columnist Frank Gruber. Although SMRR is still a powerful organization with a tight grip on the city, it has gotten to a point where the organization needs to make sure it is backing the right people who can win than it is a guarantee for a candidate to win because of SMRR’s backing.
The lack of an endorsement in the state assembly race is an interesting choice. Since at least 1994 and probably before that, the assembly member representing Santa Monica was elected with the backing of SMRR. Although neither candidate will admit it, they are both angry not to get the organization’s endorsement. And that also means whoever wins the race will not owe anything to SMRR, harming the organization if it needs help from Sacramento with some of its crazy ideas.
Also in election news, the school board made it official this week that it will place a $385 million bond proposal on the November ballot. If approved by 55 percent of the electorate, the tax will cost you about $185 per year for the next 30 years to pay for capital improve projects that are allegedly needed.
The vote to approve the measure was 6-1, with the dissenter being Ralph Mechur. He didn’t vote against the proposal because he actually cared about bleeding you dry with taxes, he just didn’t think this was the best chance to get a measure passed.
“I feel we can do this in 2014 and we will be better prepared,” Mechur said. “There are so many unanswered questions about what we would do.”