Santa Monica City Council Endorsement Roundup!


photo (22)There are fewer than 50 days left before the November 4 election and only a month left to register to vote if you plan on letting your voice be heard in this election.

With election season in high gear in Santa Monica, local political organizations and civic leaders are wasting no time getting the word out about who they support in the 14-way race for three seats on the Santa Monica City Council.

Regional Leaders Weigh In

Today, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced he is supporting Mayor Pam O’Connor’s reelection bid. Garcetti is also the current chair of the Metro Board of Directors, on which O’Connor has sat since 2001. Garcetti is the third major regional civic leader to endorse O’Connor after County Supervisor and Metro Boardmember Zev Yaroslavsky and former State legislator Sheila Kuehl.

Said Garcetti, “As Chair of Metro, I have worked closely with Pam O’Connor on a number of important transportation issues. She is an essential partner and shares my vision of expanding transit options to connect communities in Los Angeles County.”

O’Connor is one of two incumbents running for reelection to the Santa Monica City Council. Her colleague, Councilmember Kevin McKeown is also running.

Labor Speaks Out

Both McKeown and O’Connor — along with former Mayor Michael Feinstein, who is hoping to make a political comeback after a decade out of office — have received the backing of the Coalition of Santa Monica City Employees’ Political Action Committee (PAC), which represents all the City’s non-safety workers. The Trades & Maintenance Teamsters Local 911 also endorsed the three candidates. More from The Lookout News here and here.

UNITE HERE Local 11, the regional hospitality workers’ union, threw the organization’s considerable weight behind McKeown and second-time candidate Frank Gruber, a former planning commissioner, long-time political observer, and former columnist. The candidates could enjoy the benefits of UNITE HERE’s well-organized get-out-the-vote effort, which had a major influence over the outcome of the 2012 City Council election.

UNITE HERE Local 11’s political director, Derek Smith, told The Lookout“We chose Frank and Kevin because they both have a strong history of standing alongside us.”

Santa Monica’s Police and Firefighters’ unions are expected to make their endorsements later this month.

The Local Clubs Go to Bat

On Tuesday night, O’Connor and McKeown both secured the backing of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party through a vote of the membership along with first-time City Council candidate Sue Himmelrich, who currently sits on Santa Monica’s Planning Commission.

The County Dems’ vote came about a week after the Santa Monica Democratic Club members voted to back McKeown and Himmelrich. Planning Commissioner Jennifer Kennedy, who is also making her first City Council bid, narrowly missed the threshold required to secure the organization’s endorsement.

In August, members of Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, the city’s single-most influential political organization, failed to endorse a single City Council candidate for the first time in the organization’s 40-year history.

In a private meeting a few weeks later, the group’s steering committee met to endorse McKeown and Kennedy, skipping over Gruber, who was the second highest vote-getter in the two rounds of voting during the August convention after McKeown, and Planning Commissioner Richard McKinnon, who garnered the third-highest number of votes.

Kennedy was the fifth-place vote-getter in both rounds, trailing Himmelrich. McKeown, Himmelrich, and McKinnon went into the August convention with the support of Santa Monica’s most well-established anti-development group, Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (SMCLC), which had announced its slate about a week before the SMRR convention.

14-Way Race

With Councilmember Bob Holbrook stepping down after more than three decades of service, there is at least one seat that will go to a non-incumbent candidate. As a result, this year’s election has drawn a wide field.

Also in the race are Parks and Recreation Chair Phil Brock and Nick Boles, a nonprofit consultant and the youngest candidate in the running.

Peace Activist Jerry Rubin is making his sixth bid for City Council, while Jon Mann, another perennial candidate, is running for a record 12th time. Also in the running is Terence Later, a consultant who ran in 2012 and newcomers Whitney Scott Bain and Zoë Muntaner.


Jason Islas
Jason Islas
Jason Islas is the editor of Santa Monica Next and the director of the Vote Local Campaign. Before joining Next in May 2014, Jason had covered land use, transit, politics and breaking news for The Lookout, the city’s oldest news website, since February 2011.

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