Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Katie Wilmshurst
Special to the Observer 

City Council Election Race Begins as SMCLC Kicks of Candidate Endorsements

 

The race has begun as the nomination period commences, looking for candidates to run for the elections on November 4. Occupancies include three City Council seats, three Rent Control Board seats, four Board of Education seats and four Santa Monica City College trustee seats.

As the City Registrar completes the signature counts for nominations, we take a look at who could be taking these seats in the fall.

The local political season swung into high gear with endorsements flowing and candidates vying for attention on an almost daily basis. The local slow-growth advocacy group, the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (SMCLC) was the first to announce its endorsements for prospective city council members on July 14- the same day candidates could officially begin their nomination process. Those who win the election will be joining existing members Ted Winterer and Tony Vazquez.

SMCLC listed incumbent council member Kevin McKeown, and Planning Commissioners Sue Himmelrich and Richard McKinnon as their choices. These candidates all backed the stopping of the Hines project at 26th Street, and currently oppose the three proposed out-of-scale, high rise condo-hotel towers on Ocean Avenue.

They claim the upcoming election is "historic"- a chance to "fundamentally change the current Council...to one that will act for residents, not developers." According to SMCLC, "the scale, character and livability of our City is at stake."

McKeown received the most votes in his last go-round in 2010. "I have a long record of representing residents, not land speculators. I want to keep working to protect all of us and the community we love." He has in particular expressed the importance of the candidates selected making a good team, showing support for co-runners Jennifer Kennedy and Sue Himmelrich. "If residents want to beat developer money trying to buy seats for developer candidates, we have to pull together and support candidates who can win. I'm running on my own slow-growth record, and supporting two great slow-growth women."

Fellow endorsed candidate Richard McKinnon aims to focus on three aspects of council work. "Santa Monica is special. Unique. And the real needs of a sustainable Santa Monica are clear: Control Development, putting residents first, and turning our city a deep green- and quickly".

McKinnon received 8,041 votes in 2012, missing the last open slot by just under 4,000 votes. He's hoping to surpass these numbers this time around.

The SMCLC's final endorsement, Sue Himmelrich has been a strong voice for Santa Monica's values while on the Planning Commission, and has joined with Santa Monica grassroots group Residocracy and neighbors city-wide in support of local referendums.

There are still more developments to be made regarding the support of City Council runners. Adding to the long list of candidates is Former Mayor Mike Feinstein, who has also announced he is running. Feinstein was elected in 1996 and won again in 2000. This is his first election attempt since his marginal loss in 2004.

In addition, former Planning Commissioner Frank Gruber announced his intent to run last week. Gruber, an outspoken critic of the Santa Monica Airport, finished eighth in the 2012 election, missing the last open slot by just under 6,000 votes.

In addition, three members of the Rent Control Board are up for reelection: Todd Flora, Bill Winslow, and Marilyn Korade-Wilson, all of whom ran unopposed in their last election.

The SMMUSD Board of Education is also opening up four seats, as Current co-Chair Ralph Mechur and Oscar de la Torre's term is up. Last month, Board member Nimish Patel announced he wouldn't run – citing increased duties at work and a desire to spend more time with family – causing the co-chair of the city's largest political party, Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein of Santa Monicans' Renter's Rights, to place himself in the running, claiming he would step down from his position with the party if elected. Renter's rights will be holding its endorsement conference on the first weekend in August.

Kevin McKeown

Other candidate forums also being scheduled. Residocracy.org, the advocacy group that mounted a successful campaign against the Hines development, will hold a forum on July 28 from 6:30 – 9 p.m. at the Main Library. The forum will double as Residocracy's endorsement process. According to the invitation, Residocracy members can submit questions that will be asked and members will have an opportunity to rank the candidates following the forum.

"Following the forum, the Residocracy Advisory Board will meet to review your input and select the three City Council candidates who we feel will do the best job of representing residents and addressing your issues and concerns," said the announcement.

For more information on the election, visit smgov.net/departments/clerk or http://www.smvote.org.

 

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