This column is an invitation to a Santa Monica City Council candidate forum. It’s also a recognition that this city is “on the map.” It partially told through an anecdote about the saga of a dress for a wedding. Mostly, it’s a story of gratitude.
Santa Monica is a city of world famous beaches, known for environmental stewardship, home to renowned chefs and star restaurants and leaders in the locavore movement. From the iconic Palisades Park to the creation of the new Civic Center Parks, from the fun of the pier to the fun of the upcoming GLOW – Santa Monica has the chops.
First, let me tell you a quintessential small town story, a story about a dress. It was Saturday: I went to the tailor’s to pick up my dress for the wedding of the son of dear friend. The store was unexpectedly closed. The wedding was the next day. What to do?
I looked for a sign in the window, “In case of emergency call…” but found nothing. I went into adjacent stores, told my story, got lots of sympathy, but no one knew how to contact the owner. I called the President of the Merchants Association: She, alas, had no contact information to provide.
Then I saw the police car, parked at the curb. Remembering that Santa Monica now has beat officers so that local residents and merchants can know the officers in their area, I thought it was worth a try to ask him. But what about taking police time for a personal problem?
“Officer, may I ask a question? It’s a personal question and not a police question and I won’t take your time if you’re busy.” He was polite and asked what he could do to help. I told my story and he replied, “If I told my wife this story she’d tell me to break into the store and get the dress for you.” We both laughed. He called City Hall, but had no luck.
Ready to give up, I called a friend, “Do you have a dress I could borrow?” And I even called a Santa Monica City Council member, who it seemed to me, knew everyone in Santa Monica, “Do you know how I could reach the tailor?”
The end of the dress story is that I got a call from the tailor, “Ms. Cloke, I got your number from the Santa Monica Police Dept.” We agreed to meet at the shop so I could get the dress in time for the wedding.
I was grateful to the tailor. But I was overflowing with gratitude for the sympathy and help I got from the merchants, the council member, and the police department. I realized Santa Monica may have a worldwide reputation, but it is still a small town where people help each other with the small stuff.
The question for me is, how to make sure that we keep the small town ethic. I think one part of the answer is leadership. We are blessed with many wonderful leaders in our neighborhood, civic, educational, and philanthropic organizations. We have city council members who give out their phone numbers, answer calls on Saturdays, and are here to help people.
In a little over six weeks, Santa Monicans will be voting to fill the five open seats on the city council. There will be many meet-and-greets, candidates will be knocking on doors, residents will be getting fliers in the mail. And the Santa Monica Mirror invites you to meet the City Council Candidates and to hear their answers to the questions of the day.
The event is called “Hometown Forum.” It will be held in the MLK Auditorium at the Main Library, on Monday, October 11. Candidates will be there at 6:30 p.m. to meet-and-greet and the Q&A will begin at 7 p.m.
The forum questions for candidates will come from community organizations and individuals, not from the editorial board of the Mirror. You can send in your questions for the candidates to firstname.lastname@example.org. And, of course, the Mirror will have information about the candidates and the election from now until Election Day and after.
I’m hoping we elect people who are committed to environmental stewardship, to protecting our beaches, to building parks, to the quality of our schools, to our civic organizations, to our educational organizations, to our neighborhoods, and to our local businesses, to making City government work for the people of the city, and to never losing the small town ethic.
What Say You?