The political season is taking shape, and a gaggle of Santa Monica contestants are poised for battle as the lines have now been drawn.
The November Santa Monica ballot has been finalized in races for City Council, Rent Control Board, School Board, and SMC Board. In the City Council race, there are 13 candidates including four incumbents seeking four open seats. The Rent Control Board has three contestants including one incumbent vying for two open seats. On the School Board, four people (two incumbents) seek to fill three four-year terms, and on the SMC Board three incumbents and one challenger are running for three open seats.
The last day to file nomination papers was August 8, although that was extended to August 13 in the case of the School Board race. On August 14, the California Secretary of State determined the order of names on the ballot. Assistant Santa Monica City Clerk Beth Sanchez confirms that the ballot is now in its final form (although write-in candidates can file until October 21), and the candidates, in ballot order, are as follows. Because of space, candidate and platform descriptions are not exhaustive.
Jerry Peace Activist Rubin, 64, recently a leader of the Treesavers organization, whose candidate statement simply proclaims, “It’s really time for a change.”
Jon Louis Mann, 63, a flight attendant who says this is his “ninth and final run.” As in prior campaigns, he argues that “special interests have more input into public policy than residents.”
Writer Ted Winterer, 51, president of the Ocean Park Association and one of the authors of RIFT (now designated Proposition T on the ballot) to limit commercial development in Santa Monica.
Councilmember Bobby Shriver, 54, who is seeking a second term “because I haven’t finished what I started,” according to his candidate statement, which stresses his work on homeless initiatives, efforts to clean Santa Monica Bay, and limiting building heights and density.
Herbert Silverstein, 77, a retired stock broker whose candidate statement recounts his education and experience, including over 40 years “in operations management and as a registered representative” in NYSE firms.
Susan Hartley, an employment law attorney who is a Friends of Sunset Park (FOSP) board member and a co-founder of Treesavers. Her candidate statement says, “Let’s take back Santa Monica,” and targets “proposed growth, density and height,” traffic gridlock, and airport pollution.
Data entry operator Linda Armstrong, whose motto is “Women and Children First,” as it was when she ran in 2006. Her platform calls for housing all homeless women, ensuring prompt police response to 911 calls from women, various children’s services, and “a comprehensive living wage covering all of Santa Monica.”
Councilmember Ken Genser, 57, a land use planning consultant and five-term veteran of the Council. His candidate statement stresses his record, including his commitment to “controlling growth and fighting overdevelopment; protecting our safety; [and] delivering cost-effective, high quality city services,” among other things.
Mayor Herb Katz, 77, an architect who says he “will have served four [Council] terms over a period of 16 years.” Describing himself as “an independent voice of reason on the Council,” he points to his work in co-founding the Promenade, orchestrating the purchase of Virginia Avenue Park, fighting for a sign ordinance to reduce urban blight, and strongly supporting police and firefighters.
Michael Kovac, 33, a small business advisor, promises “to listen – and build an agenda based on what YOU – not the ‘special interests’ want.” He has a website, telephone number, email address, and sites at Facebook and MySpace for residents to “[t]ell me which issues are most important to you.”
Linda Piera-Avila, 51, a physical therapist and 28-year Santa Monica resident. Her platform calls for, among other things, “significantly expanding community gardens, parks and open space; sustainable living and a healthy environment; limited development that best serves residents; increased bicycle ridership, safety and awareness; [and] an Urban Forestry Commission.”
Entrepreneur and actor John Blakely, 25, says, “It’s time to give someone else a try.” Calling himself a “pragmatist,” he says that “as a city council person I would make decisions based on what is best for Santa Monica.” He advocates a fleet of all hybrid buses, investing in a solar power infrastructure, and more bicycle parking.
Mayor Pro Tem Richard Bloom, 55, a councilmember “for nearly a decade,” stresses his record in his candidate statement. As for the future, he singles out, among other things, completing Civic Center Park, bringing more music and art to Civic Auditorium, and expanding Memorial Park.
Rent Control Board
Robert Kronovet, 50, is a 20-year homeowner and chairman of the Pico Improvement Organization; he stresses the importance of homeowners and tenants working together. Joel C. Koury, a public defender, chairs the Rent Control Board; he says that “protecting our long term tenants will always be my highest priority.” Christopher Braun, 33, is a Doctor of Chiropractic who lives in a rent control apartment; recounting his work on the SMRR helpline and the recent campaign against Proposition 98, he says he “will continue to ensure renters are protected and are well educated on their rights as tenants.”
Ralph Mechur, 58, is an architect who was appointed to the School Board in August 2007 and is now running unopposed for the remaining two-year term left on that seat.
The four candidates seeking the three open four-year seats are School Board incumbent and past president Maria Leon-Vazquez, 52; Ben Allen, 30, a member of SMMUSD’s Financial Oversight Committee and former member of the University of California Board of Regents; School Board vice-president Jose Escarce, 55; and teacher Chris Bley, 34.
Incumbent Robert Greenstein Rader, 41, a Pepperdine law professor; Heidi Hoeck, 25, past president of SMC’s student government; incumbent Susan Aminoff, a faculty member of the Los Angeles Community College District; and incumbent professor Margaret Quinones-Perez.