Former Planning Commissioner Terry O’Day was appointed as the newest member of the Santa Monica City Council at its February 23 meeting.
After getting the nod from the the councilmembers, O’Day was sworn in immediately and sat at the dais for the remainder of the meeting.
“I feel like I was in a Tornado,” O’Day said with a smile, shortly after midnight when his first council meeting adjourned (which lasted seven hours), “but my pulse has come down.”
O’day replaces the late Mayor Ken Genser, who passed away on January 9, but will not be taking his role as Mayor. Mayor Pro Tempor Pam O’Connor will continue as acting mayor until the council votes which of its members will be the new mayor. The council agendized this process for it’s next full-body meeting, likely to be in early April.
O’Day’s appointment represents the culmination of events which began more than a year ago with former Councilmember Herb Katz’s death. Katz’s vacant council seat was filled by the appointment of Gleam Davis, making her the first of two unelected councilmembers currently serving.
Kenser’s recent death left a second vacant seat open and also a predicament for the rest of the council and two options: Either hold a special election (so close to November’s upcoming election) or vote in a second appointee. Once the seat was declared vacant, the council had 30 days to take one ot the two actions, as outlined by the City’s charter.
After more than 30 minutes of public comment, the council attempted to vote on applicants, but had five rounds in which no candidate got the needed four votes for appointment. After a short recess, City Manager Rod Gould suggested the council proceed with a ranked vote where they suggest their first and second choices, to see which candidates are the most appealing.
Ultimately on the eight attempt, Councilmember Bobby Shriver’s decision to switch his vote from Winterer to his second preference (O’Day) averted what could have cost the City $150,000 in funding for a special election.
“I’m humbled by the field of applicants,” O’Day told the Mirror. “I thank the City Council for its confidence in me, and hope that in some small way I will measure up to the legacy left to us by our late Mayor Genser.”
O’Day is a 12 year resident of Santa Monica and is executive director of of Environment Now. He served on the Planning Commission for 6 years until 2009. As a member of the Planning Commission, he participated in many deliberations regarding the Land Use and Circulation Element, Exposition Light Rail, and Downtown Civic Area planning. He was a leader of the fight against RIFT in 2008, and a council candidate in 2006 when he finished fourth in the race for three open seats.
O’Day will serve until the next election in November 2010, at which point voters have the chance to elect a Councilmember to serve the remainder of the term which expires November 2012. O’Day said he will “definitely” run for re-election in November.
“I’ve got some big shoes to fill,” said O’Day.