In the race for the Santa Monica City Council, this city is lucky as it has an overabundance of dedicated and qualified candidates. For the three open four-year seats, the most qualified candidates are the three incumbents – Kevin McKeown, Bob Holbrook, and Pam O’Connor – and challenger Ted Winterer.
When envisioning which candidates would best comprise the next council, the Mirror looked for traits that would bring a strong diversity of viewpoints. First and foremost, we believe the council needs new members and Ted Winterer represents the best option. Since being the highest vote getter in the last election to not win a seat, Winterer has demonstrated his civic commitment and full-understanding of City issues on the planning commission. He also has a strong understanding of the balance between allowing appropriate development and maintaining Santa Monica’s character. His stances on promoting small businesses and maintaining strong schools are strengths that have won him endorsements from groups across the city. Winterer has our vote.
But with Winterer on the council, one of the incumbents has to go. For those of you not familiar with this scenario, when the music stops there will only be two seats left for the three incumbents.
We give one of those seats to Kevin McKeown who has demonstrated an unparalleled dedication to Santa Monica. In terms of commitment, McKeown is a responsive council member who invests all of his time in Santa Monica. Send him an e-mail (day or night) and he responds whether you are a resident or a lowly reporter at the local weekly newspaper. Santa Monica can’t afford to lose someone as committed and responsive as McKeown. He has our vote.
That leaves Holbrook and O’Connor still dancing around one seat. Both are committed and knowledgeable candidates, who this city owes great gratitude for their years of service. But between the two, Bob Holbrook brings more to the collective dais than O’Connor. Holbrook is a born and raised Santa Monica resident and small business owner. His knowledge of the city’s history is a valuable asset when putting council decisions in perspective.
Most importantly though, Holbrook represents a constituency that would otherwise be underrepresented. As a non-SMRR (Santa Monicans for Renters Rights) candidate, Holbrook brings an minority’s perspective that adds invaluable diversity to the council. Often Holbrook is the dissenter on important votes. He has our final vote for the four-year seats.
However, a vote for Pam O’Connor would not be misplaced and if elected, she would likely continue to bring a breadth of knowledge to the council. Following Mayor Ken Genser’s death this last January, as the mayor pro tem, O’Connor gracefully assumed executive leadership over the council and presided the body through some tough decisions. As a LA County Metro Board of Director, her knowledge has been instrumental in the LUCE process.
Despite all this, we were forced to make tough decisions in this race and O’Connor will not receive our endorsement. If not elected, we hope that O’Connor will continue lend her great service to Santa Monica by continuing to be involved in the LUCE process and other City matters.
In the last two years, two City Council candidates passed away in office, leaving their respective seats vacant. To fill them, the council members twice had to decide between holding a special election or voting among themselves from a list of candidates. To fill Herb Katz seat, Gleam Davis was appointed. To fill Ken Genser’s seat, Terry O’Day was appointed. Since no elections were held, those two appointees have to run for election this year. Whoever wins will serve the final two-years of what would have been Katz’ and Genser’s terms. This situation leaves Santa Monica with an unusual situation in which a total of five seats are up for grabs in one election.
Of the candidates running for these two , two-year seats, Gleam Davis and Terry O’Day showed the strongest grasp of knowledge of the issues that face the city.
In the nearly-two years Gleam Davis has sat on the council since being appointed, she has shown a strong dedication to thoroughly researching the issues before the council, which has often allowed her to bring up overlooked points. Her insights have been valuable in fully vetting agenda items. Her strong support for schools, small businesses, and finding the balance of encouraging appropriate development has earned her the Mirror’s support.
Terry O’Day, has only sat on the council since this spring, but has shown a potential to be a strong council member. As a former planning commissioner, he has the background knowledge of City processes. He supports schools and as a resident of Pico neighborhood, represents a part of town that has been overlooked in the past and whose residents’ voices are not heard as often as the other neighborhoods.
However, O’Day has yet to take a strong leadership position on the council, especially regarding environmental issues, something you would expect him to champion given that he is the president/executive director of Environment Now. He has demonstrated a more-than strong understanding of environmental and sustainability issues in Santa Monica, but we’d like to see him take charge in those areas, as he has in his professional life, rather than simply supporting them. If elected, we hope he will take strength from no longer being an appointed member of the council and will use the election to spearhead to the prominence we hope for. Given those stipulations, we endorse Terry O’Day.
Santa Monica has some very big pieces of meat on its plate. This election is vital to dictating the direction of the leadership of this city. The Santa Monica Mirror endorses Kevin McKeown, Ted Winterer, and Bob Holbrook for the four-year candidates and Gleam Davis and Terry O’Day for the two-year seats. We hope that these candidates will continue to lead Santa Monica in the way her residents deserve – as a leader that other cities look to for direction.