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

Observer Endorses Measures, Candidates


October 20, 2014

It’s that time of year again: your mailboxes are filling up with mail from candidates, causes and slates!

After careful consideration, here are the Observer’s endorsements, in the order they appear in your ballot:

Governor: Jerry Brown.  Jerry is irascible, smart, cranky, and wily.  He has shown that he has the experience, wisdom, but also the independence to lead.  He has deserved your vote for reelection.

Lieutenant Governor: Gavin Newsom.  This is a sleeper of a race.  Gavin is smart and innovative and deserves to be reelected.

Secretary of State: Pete Peterson.  This is one of the most intriguing races on the ballot.  Our hat tips to Pete Peterson, a local guy who is smart, honest, creative, and deeply committed to finding more ways to engage the public in the governing process.  Padilla is smart and committed too, but we go with the outsider to shake things up a bit.  Either candidate would provide the Secretary of State’s office with a much-needed adrenaline boost. 

Controller: Betty Yee.  Yee is a candidate with integrity and pluck.  The more that comes out about her opponent Swearengin, the less we like her.   

Treasurer: John Chiang.  Chiang is an extraordinarily smart and capable politician and numbers guy who is consumer and constituent-driven.  He impressed as Controller during a very difficult time and deserves a shot at Treasurer.  

Attorney General: No Preference.  Kamala Harris has been a disappointment; Ronald Gold doesn’t seem quite ready for prime time.

Insurance Commissioner: Dave Jones.  Jones is a consumer advocate who has stood up to the insurance companies for all of us.  

U.S. Representative: Elan Carr seems so much more vivacious, independent, outgoing, and dynamic than Ted Lieu.   We also thinks it’s time for some conservative voices in the senate, but we realize that’s just us.

State Senate: Ben Allen.  Ben is a local guy who is exceptionally smart, committed, ethical, and talented.  He has served our community well here in Santa Monica on the School Board and is ready to take his leadership skills to the next level.  Sandra Fluke is also smart and talented, but she just moved here and seems to be looking far further up the political food chain far too quickly to be particularly interested in local representation.  We vote for Ben.

Assembly: Richard Bloom.  Our former Mayor has represented us well in Sacramento and has earned reelection.  

We say vote yes on all of the judges for the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal.  Unless there’s some egregious thing that a judge does, it’s generally a good thing to keep them on the bench so as to keep the bench independent.

Superior Court Judge Office Number 61: Jacqueline Lewis.  The Bar has rated her “Exceptionally Well Qualified” and everyone who works with her glows about her and her skills as a jurist.

Office Number 87: Andrew Stein.  Stein is contentious but far more qualified than Griego.

School Superintendent: Marshall Tuck.  Our schools and kids need an independent voice to look out for them, and not the institutionalized educational bureaucracy that Torlakson represents.  Tuck would be a breath of fresh air.

Assessor: Jeff Prang.  We are concerned about his closeness to scandal-tarred former Assessor Noguez, but Jeff has a lot of experience in local government, understands the way the system works, and is much closer to the political mainstream than his opponent.  

Sheriff: Jim McDonnell.  This is a no-brainer.  Paul Tanaka will likely be in jail soon.  McDonnell has been an exemplary police leader in our region for years and years and will bring fresh blood to a Sheriff’s Department that badly needs it.  

Supervisor: Bobby Shriver.  We have two very talented and irascible Santa Monicans running for office.  Bobby gets our vote because of his independence, his deep commitment to our town, and we trust him to keep the County’s budget in line.


1: Yes.  Our water infrastructure is creaking.  This is not a perfect measure but it’s a step in the right direction.

2: Yes.  We need to keep legislators from overspending during times of plenty so that there’s some money left during times of recession.  Support a rainy day fund.

45: Yes.  This measure empowers the Insurance Commissioner to oversee certain insurance rates.  We like the independently elected Commissioner position, are frustrated by the power of the insurance industry and their influence over some of the regulators, and think that 45 is a needed reform.

46: Yes.  The time has come for us to raise the limits on pain and suffering damages in medical malpractice cases.  The limits haven’t been raised since the seventies, and there is currently not even a correction for inflation.  We have real problems with other aspects of this proposition, but there is no way the legislature will ever move on this MICRA cap issue and so we vote yes.

47: Yes.  Our prisons are so overcrowded with non-violent offenders.  47 offers an opportunity for us to lower penalties for certain non-violent crimes and make sure that our prisons house real criminals.

48: Yes.  This will bring in revenues to the state.  We don’t want California to turn into Nevada but a couple more casinos in other parts of the state aren’t a big problem.  

P: Yes.  Local parks need help, this doesn’t cost a lot of money and will make a big difference in terms of quality of life around the County.

College Board: Barry Snell, Louise Jaffe, Nancy Greenstein, Andrew Walzer.  Santa Monica College is well run and has been very generous with its hard-working faculty under the current circumstances.  The Faculty Association is taking a rear-guard action against the Board through this election, and the voters shouldn’t support it.

School Board: Laurie Lieberman, Ralph Mechur, Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein.  This is a complicated race with complicated people and issues.  Laurie and Ralph are talented, honest, conscientious, and solid, though both are known for being exasperatingly stubborn at times. Richard is a good guy, a bit green, but is also honest and good.  Oscar de la Torre is incredibly ethically complicated and in spite of what he says, Craig Foster still seems to be a single-agenda candidate who ran last time “from Malibu, for Malibu.”  The other two candidates don’t seem to have the stature to serve on the Board.  We’re only comfortable voting for Laurie, Ralph, and Richard. 

City Council: We go with two of the recommendations of SMCLC for low-development candidates who will preserve what remains of Santa Monica after the current and previous councils have let development overrun the place.That means Kevin McKeown and Richard McKinnon. There is too much development in town, and we believe that this is the right combination of Councilmembers to stem the tide and stand up to the developers. Kevin has served ably and conscientiously.

Phil Brock is a great local boy, who has spent years working for service organizations, whom we also endorse for balance. He inherits Bob Holbrook’s seat. Honorable mention goes to Jennifer Kennedy, who is hard-working and committed, has been a local elected official on the Rent Board, and recently has served on the Planning Commission. We also like Sue Himmelrich but there are only so many votes and she’s relatively new to the political game and can run next time.

Rent Board: Nicole Phillis, Steve Duron, Todd Flora.  All good folks, all going to win, as they are running unopposed.  Todd has the best sense of humor of the three.  

Local Measures

D: Yes.  We’re not against having an airport in town, and are worried about the development that would ensue if it is closed down. We have little sympathy for folks who bought property at a discount near the airport and now want it closed. They’re in this for themselves and no one else. We have no problem with “outsiders” who want this regional amenity kept in operation. A local airport increases our access to the outer world, especially during times of emergency.

FS: No.  We’re not so hot on the rent board, and don’t want to increase costs for tenants and landlords.  It’s already too expensive to live here.

H: No.  We do support some limited affordable housing in town, but it’s not right to sneak this enormous extra cost in to real estate transactions.

HH:  No.  If the tax does pass, don’t tie the hands of the City Council if there are better uses for the money.

LC: Sorry, this is a bad one. It gives our council the exact power we’re afraid for them to have: power to close the airport. Once that happens, don’t count on “voters” having any say in the runaway development that will ensue, even if the proposition claims they will. Also be aware that if this passes, it specifies that D will be nullified, even if it also passes. There are just too many problems and loopholes in this proposition. We give it a big thumbs down.


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