At press time, the Venice Neighborhood Council election is “too close to call,” according to Santa Monica Mirror Election Central. With 13 provisional ballots yet to be factored into the count, a mere nine votes separate the candidates for Land Use & Planning Committee chair, and only four votes stand between the No. 7 and No. 8 candidates for the seven open Community Officer seats.
In the voting on Sunday, September 17, at the Venice High School auditorium, 511 ballots were cast, including those that had been mailed, but excluding the provisional ballots cast by persons who came without having registered to vote and without bringing the evidence necessary to demonstrate their qualifications as Venice “stakeholders” entitled to vote. These latter ballots were accepted with the provision that the voters would return within 72 hours with papers demonstrating that they lived, worked or owned property within the defined Venice area.
Official results will be announced Thursday morning, September 21, and posted in the Mirror’s electronic edition at smmirror.com.
In the race for leadership of the influential Land Use & Planning Committee (LUPC), incumbent chair Challis Macpherson stands with 202 votes to 193 votes for committee member Michael P. King; write-in candidate Katerina Tana has 24 votes. King, an architect and planner, sought to unseat Macpherson, a longtime community activist on land use issues.
In the contest to fill seven open Community Officer seats on the Neighborhood Council, Sylviane Dungan holds onto the No. 7 spot with 37 votes, while Stewart Oscars has 33, and Robin Murez also remains in the running with 29 votes. Eileen Pollack Erickson, Mike Newhouse and Spike Marlin, now in the No. 4, 5, and 6 spots, also remain in jeopardy.
DeDe Audet was elected President of the council with 366 votes in her unopposed run for reelection. Also elected in unopposed runs were Vice President Yolanda Gonzales (346 votes) and Community Outreach Officer L. J. Carusone (356 votes). (All vote totals in this article are exclusive of the 13 provisional votes awaiting verification.)
In the Community Officer race, each stakeholder was allowed to vote for one candidate only from an at-large field of 19, with the seven persons receiving the most votes winning seats on the council. Before the council bylaws were amended earlier this year, each Venetian could cast multiple votes for council members – a circumstance that led to slate voting and, some believed, the under-representation (or non-representation) of parts of the community.
Votes for Community Officer were as follows (with the 13 provisional ballots yet to be included):
1. Ira Koslow 79 votes
2. Joseph D. Murphy 71
3. Nadine Parkos 50
4. Eileen Pollack Erickson 41
5. Mike Newhouse 40
6. Spike Marlin 39
7. Sylviane Dungan 37
8. Stewart Oscars 33
9. Robin Murez 29
Those elected, whoever they may be, will be installed for one-year terms and join the other ten council members on a date at least 30 days after the election pursuant to the amended council bylaws. All 21 council seats will be up for election to two-year terms in September 2007.
Neighborhood Council member and election chair Richard Myers thanked all those who turned out to vote, and especially “all of our hard-working volunteers, some of whom worked non-stop from 9 a.m. until after 7 p.m. to help make sure the election ran smoothly for everyone.”
Myers also urged unsuccessful candidates and all Venetians to beco me involved in the committee work of the new council. Under the amended bylaws, all members of LUPC except the elected chair will be non-council members selected by the council, and the new Neighborhood Committee will be made up of at least one stakeholder from each of the nine districts within Venice that have been replaced on the council itself by at-large voting. Anyone interested in the work of the community, Myers said, should leave a message at 310.399.5515 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, life in Venice goes on, with the 22nd Annual Abbot Kinney Festival this Sunday, September 24, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. along Abbot Kinney Blvd. between Main St. and Venice Blvd. Two stages of live music, dancers and performance artists. A spectacular children’s court, three food areas, a Spirit Garden, Art Pavilion and over 300 vendors featuring original, handcrafted goods. Admission is free.