Following its candidate forum last week, the education advocacy group – Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS) – released its endorsements for the upcoming Santa Monica City Council election. However, it seems CEPS had trouble winnowing the list of candidates for the three open four-year term seats.
Three incumbents (Bob Holbrook, Pam O’Connor, and Kevin McKeown) are running against prominent challenger and planning commissioner Ted Winterer, who ran in the previous election and garnered the most votes among those that did not get elected.
In that race for the three four-year seats, CEPS endorsed those three incumbents AND Winterer too. “CEPS noted the longtime service of [the incumbents] to the City of Santa Monica and their proven commitment to education issues,” said the organization in a release. “ The group also felt that Ted Winterer, a [Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District] parent and Santa Monica Planning Commissioner, would be a valuable addition to the City Council.”
CEPS’s endorsements were made by its Steering Committee, the primary criteria of which were the candidates positions on Measure Y, the proposed half-cent transaction and use tax that would bring additional revenues into city coffers, and Measure YY, an accompanying advisory measure that asks the City Council to direct half of increased revenues generated by Proposition Y to local schools, with the other half benefiting vital City services.
The incumbents and Winterer, “unequivocally” stated that should both measures pass, they would support allocating the full 50 percent of increased revenues to Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) schools, with that allocation being added to and not supplant the current funding generated by the Joint Use Agreement between the City of Santa Monica and SMMUSD.
In the last two years, Winterer was not selected to fill the two vacancies in council seats despite his next-in-line vote totals, as the council choose Gleam Davis and Terry O’Day to fill departed mayors Herb Katz and Ken Genser’s seats respectively following their deaths in office. Davis and O’Day are running for the remainder of time of those seats, seeking election for two-year terms. Both candidates were also endorsed by CEPS.
In the School Board election, CEPS supported the three incumbents in the race, Oscar de la Torre, Ralph Mechur and School Board President, Barry Snell, as a vote of confidence for the direction and positive moves currently underway within the District. Each of these incumbents had a strong role to play in Special Education reform, guiding the district through its recent budget crises, and helping develop the focus and goals for the district, which has just seen a significant rise in student test scores.
For the final endorsed seat, CEPS has supported longtime education activist, Laurie Leiberman, who it feels will add a strong, new, and extremely knowledgeable voice to the SMMUSD Board of Education.