City Council watchers are talking about the anticipated February 24 Council vote to fill Herb Katz’s seat. A five-time council member, Katz, was well known for his support for education, his interest in city planning, his straight talking style, and his openness. Discussion, disagreement and agreement over criteria to select his replacement are ongoing. Criteria being proposed include: appointing someone who shares Katz’s values, his style, and his opinions, holding a special election as that would be more in the democratic spirit; using the appointment to repair the gender, and geographical imbalances of the existing Council.
At their January 27 meeting the Council called for any and all interested persons to submit an application and a statement of interest to the City Clerk by 5:30 p.m. on February 17. The City Charter requires that the vacancy be filled. The vote is scheduled for the February 24 Council meeting. Failing to get four votes for any one of the applicants, the City is required to hold a special election.
Maybe an amazing candidate will emerge from the application process, uniting the Council Members in an enthusiastic, unanimous endorsement. Perhaps a neutral candidate, acceptable to all and publicly committing not to use an appointment as an opportunity to run in the 2008 election, will emerge. It is more likely that the choice will be among the four top contenders. In alphabetical order they are: Gleam Davis, Patricia Hoffman, Terry O’Day and Ted Winterer. Each has strong support in the community.
All four have run for office previously. Ted Winterer in 2008, Terry O’Day and Gleam Davis in 2006, and, Patricia Hoffman in 2004. All were next in order, after the winners, in numbers of votes cast. All four are very active community members. Winterer is the President of OPA (Ocean Park Association), and a Recreation and Parks Commissioner, a supporter of Proposition T. O’Day is a Planning Commissioner, a well known environmental advocate, and an opponent of Proposition T (which was on the November 2008 ballot and was defeated). Davis and Hoffman are the current Co-Chairs of SMRR (Santa Monicans for Renter’s Rights). Davis is also the co-chair of the BB Committee and a Planning Commissioner. Hoffman was the President of the Board of Education and has been a long-time advocate for affordable housing and for public health.
Some are saying that the choice will be either Davis or Hoffman as they are SMRR members. Four of the sitting Council Members, Ken Genser, Pam O’Connor, Kevin McKeown and Richard Bloom are SMRR members. Bob Holbrook and Bobby Shriver are not. Herb Katz was not.
As important as all the defined criteria are, also important will be something that only the Council Members can know. They have to consider the dynamic of the Council and pick the person they think will be a beneficial addition to that dynamic.
Herb Katz can’t be replaced. But we can, and should honor his memory by seating a Council Member who loves our City as he did and who will be, as he was, dedicated to serving the people of the City and a constant presence in its public life.