Imagine you are elected to the City Council and it is four years from now. How will you be remembered? On which issues will you lead the Council and the City?
That was my question for each of the 15 people running for one of the four City Council seats under consideration in this November 6 election.
Since the winning candidates will be responsible for deciding the future of the City, I thought they should tell us, in their own words, what they would want to accomplish as council members.
The candidates are, in ballot order, Terry O’Day, John Cyrus Smith, Bob Seldon, Ted Winterer, Shari Davis, Gleam Olivia Davis, Steve Duron, Tony Vasquez, Roberto Gomez, Frank Gruber, Richard McKinnon, Jonathan Mann, Armen Melkonians, Jerry Rubin, and Terence Later.
This is column two of two to allow everyone some ‘ink.’
John Cyrus Smith, Teacher/Journalist/Producer
“Four years from now, more people than ever before will be supporting my reelection, because I’ve always kept my promises and put their interests ahead of everything else. I’ll be remembered as the Councilman with a common name who finally brought common sense to the Council… a political newcomer who started strong and always stood firm against the rampant pace of development, never took a dime from developers and fought against the many forces so willing to sell off the soul of our city, for profit.
Voters will say I was the one who finally got a real plan in place to bring a ‘subway to the sea’ to Third and Wilshire. They’ll also say I never shied away from taking on powerful interests and tough issues. Teachers and families will support me again because I vigorously support our schools. Seniors, parents and renters will say I have their backs and I never let them down, and that Santa Monica is a much better city because of my leadership.
Most of all, I hope to be remembered as a Councilman who promised to keep Santa Monica a special place for the people who live here and backed up that promise with fresh ideas and action. A person who found compassionate but firm answers to homelessness… a leader who found real traffic solutions on the streets and in neighborhoods… and a man who worked so kids have more parks and places to play. I’ll be remembered as the councilman who said finally said “No” to mega-developments that profit developers and not people who live here… a councilman who stuck by his word, made our city better and always puts people first.”
Bob Seldon, Attorney
“I will be remembered as a vocal part of a team of resident-focused candidates swept into office by voters who had had enough of the City Council’s cozy relationship with developers that had led to crushing overdevelopment and perpetual gridlock. I was a constant and leading voice for the residents, as the new majority on the Council turned the City away from developer-favoring policies detracting from the quality of life in Santa Monica.
I was a leading proponent and vocal supporter of:
• an immediate one year moratorium on new commercial and residential projects that increased on-site density, allowing the City to evaluate the effects of projects already approved before going forward with variances sought by those wishing to build projects that did not comply with the new zoning requirements;
• resident-friendly zoning codes that were enacted after the election over the objections of certain Council members favoring a different interpretation of LUCE;
• increasing the number of lanes in one direction on some of the city’s major streets with synchronized traffic lights and dedicated bus and bicycle lanes to facilitate the flow of traffic, while reducing the number of its lanes in the opposite direction to permit access to businesses and parking.
• closing Santa Monica Airport if possible or minimizing its flight operations, and meaningfully including the affected neighborhoods in planning its future as a low-impact, neighborhood-serving site;
• the inclusion of neighborhood leaders and neighborhood associations as a “kitchen cabinet” resource that brought residents into planning decisions in a meaningful way and functioned as a reality check.
I was the one who consistently asked the question “How will this enhance the quality of life of residents who already live in Santa Monica?”
Ted Winterer, Planning Commissioner
“As I write this I’m just back from a breakfast meeting at which the 2012 Sustainable City Report Card was released. Over the years the City has made great progress in many of the categories the report card measures such as Open Space/Land Use and Resource Conservation. However, it’s troubling that we are falling short of our goals for Environmental and Public Health and for Housing. I would hope if I’m elected that in four years I enabled improvement on these fronts by addressing the pollution from the Santa Monica Airport, doing more to heal our bay with Measure V funds and through other means, adopting more stringent green building standards, assuring new development provides housing for all incomes, and creating a new revenue stream for affordable housing production.
Traffic is an issue that impacts all Santa Monicans. It’s time we did more than pay lip service to the no new net pm trips policy of our Land Use and Circulation Element. We already know from environmental impact reports the number of new car trips to anticipate from projects which are approved but not yet built, so the Council should require regular reporting from staff about how those new trips are being offset by circulation improvement strategies. Our Transportation Management Ordinance, written in 1992 to reduce employee car trips, is out of date and needs to be revised. And just as neighboring cities have done for years, we should impose a Transportation Impact Fee on new development to fund tools to make traffic flow rather than clog our streets.
Finally, I hope that four years hence I will have provided the leadership and consensus building skills to assure that Santa Monica remains culturally and physically similar to what it is today while continuing to provide superior services and first rate public safety departments. Culturally, we’ve always been a socioeconomically diverse city with progressive values, a town that’s always looked to help those who are less fortunate than others. Physically, we’ve enjoyed a built environment that provides an intimate relationship with our ocean breezes, our mountain views and our Mediterranean light and that relationship should be preserved. Change is inevitable, but it must work to the benefit of our community rather than to the detriment.”
Shari Davis, Non-Profit Policy Advisor
“In four years from now, I hope I am known for my: balance, problem solving, innovation and collaboration. They’re my strengths now, and they’re what I believe Santa Monicans are looking for in their elected leaders.
I will have championed actions to implement and advance the “Cradle to Career” initiative, Santa Monica’s groundbreaking research-based collaborative approach to providing community services, lifelong learning, quality education and support for our community members from birth to our senior years. It is a long-term investment in people that accomplishes social justice goals and creates a healthy, non-violent, sustainable community. As one who has studied and dedicated countless volunteer hours on this issue, I will have provided leadership locally and regionally to address homelessness, through multi-faceted, housing-first, comprehensive programs, creating more housing for homeless vets at the VA and by pushing for more region-wide solutions.
Working with fellow Councilmembers, the Community Corporation of Santa Monica and other advocates, I will have found funding solutions for more affordable housing in the wake of the State’s dissolution of Redevelopment funding.
Along with tens of thousands of other, I will have celebrated the opening of the Expo Light Rail line in Santa Monica and left my car at home to travel eastbound and back, helping to alleviate congestion on our streets and freeways.
My attention to the City’s budget and expertise in municipal finance will have ensured that Santa Monica’s AAA credit rating is intact, and that we have transparency and accountability in our finances.
Providing leadership to bring disparate interests to work together, I will have approved development agreements that bring tangible benefits to our community as we carefully allow appropriate new projects, with an emphasis on housing, and I will have worked tirelessly to vote on zoning codes that align with the LUCE.
I will be proud to look back at the votes I have cast to enhance public safety, environmental protections, education and our wonderful way of life in Santa Monica.”
Gleam Olivia Davis, Councilmember
“I hope to be remembered as a tireless advocate for working families, seniors and youth. My commitment to our local schools and lifelong learning will remain unmatched and I will have championed implementation of the City’s “Cradle to Career” initiative that helps local youth reach their full potential. I also will have spearheaded efforts to increase learning opportunities, activities and services for seniors. For example, we will have expanded door-to-door service that helps seniors and disabled persons get groceries and other items into their homes.
I also will be known for preserving our safe, wonderful neighborhoods and their diversity by protecting rent control and encouraging the building of more affordable housing, particularly for families and seniors. Residents will have expanded recreational and social opportunities because I will have fought to improve existing parks and found opportunities to create new public open spaces. Operations at the airport will be significantly reduced or it will be closed.
The City will have adopted a new zoning code and I will have helped to build consensus around ensuring that new development is properly scaled and has a positive impact on our residents. Water self-sufficiency and primary reliance on renewable energy sources will be on the near horizon. The City’s economy will remain diverse and robust because I will have worked with local business owners to encourage residents to “Buy Local” and we will have created a healthy climate for entrepreneurs and others that want to keep or bring good-paying, green jobs to Santa Monica. The Expo line will have opened and, with my leadership, the City will be providing local bus service and other transit options that make it easier for residents and visitors to get around without a car.
Most importantly, Santa Monica still will be a great place to live.”
Tony Vazquez, Local Business Owner
“It is early 2016, Mayor Pro-Temp Tony Vazquez has made a major impact on the overall quality of life for our residents and is seeking re-election for city council after a successful four year term in office.
Tony led the fight to reduce the Santa Monica Airport foot print as it became a true “recreational” airport prohibiting corporate jets from the facility and in turn, increased neighborhood open space/parkland and greatly decreased the level of noise and air pollution.
He was a strong proponent of remaking downtown Santa Monica into the most transit-oriented, pedestrian-friendly city in California and built park-once structures at the east end of the city where visitors and employees were encouraged to park their cars as they worked or shopped in the city.
He also was a leader on the “responsible” growth issue that put an end to over-development and put forth an ordinance that requires all new development to pay for important community projects like affordable housing.
Tony continued his almost 40 year support of the city’s partnership with the local school district and community college that eventually created the state of the art high school at Samohi.
Every time the state attempted to undermine local authority and negatively affect our destiny, Tony was there to stand up for our community in times of need. In short, he created a legacy for future generations to build on.”
Roberto Gomez, Community Volunteer
“I will be remembered for the not having failed my constituents in the matters of trust and performance. That I dealt with the public with integrity and honesty in all City dealings as it related to them. But most importantly, bringing in the Federal Investigators to investigate the City for corruption.
I will bring in Federal Investigators concerning the questionable dealings the City have had with developers who have had projects approved against the wishes of the majority of the public. For example the Miramar Project is opposed by a huge number of residents. Yet the City Council pushes it through. When these very same residents ask for a hall to accommodate them the City Council denies their request. It can’t be about a lack of money because the City Attorney’s office spent $75,000 to $100,000 to defend an $86 dollar rent decrease by a City tenant at the City owned property where I live (Mountain View Mobile Home Park). In the end, the City was able to knock off $6.
I will lead on issues of overdevelopment, wasteful spending, homelessness, and the closing of the airport. The City Council should have nothing to do with the future of the Airport. They simply cannot be trusted. They have shown collectively where at least five out of the seven council members vote in blocks. How can five people think the same way most or all of the time? Check out their voting record which most times favors developers.
One would certainly agree that the issue of corruption is a very real possibility with the profit that can be had with help from strategically placed City allies. Huge money is at stake. When the Federal Investigation takes place in the City of Santa Monica, the City of Bell will pale in comparison.”
Richard McKinnon, Corporate Adviser
“In four years the Bike Plan will be completed (except the San Vicente path and Seventh Street bridge) and we will have started another as part of my “Bikes Everywhere” policy. We will have solar panels on 20 percent of the roofs in Santa Monica, be headed towards self sufficiency in water with zero waste; and we will have planted another 3000 street trees; all part of “Deep Green Santa Monica” environmental policy. We will have tackled traffic problems with different routes and bus sizes for Big Blue Bus, introduced tough Transport Demand Management measures on commercial and retail, and put priority on walkable streets. There will be an anti smoking in apartments ordinance; and the City and School District will work together to open new green space and playing fields for residents. The Airport will be smaller and headed towards closure.
The general view will be that I am an environmentally leader, bike advocate, tough on development and architecture councilor focused on resident needs.”
Jonathan Mann, Teacher
“If I were elected I would be remembered for my persistence and determination in advocating for a Virtual Town Hall on the city website with moderated public forums on burning issues, and city wide free WiFi.
I would lead the Council and City by using this electronic interface to empower residents to have a voice in policy decisions that currently favor special interests domination over the present council.
A Virtual Town Hall would level the playing field so penniless/paperless candidates could overthrow the current political machine and represent the residents rather than special interests.
I would have the budget on line with a search function so residents could see for themselves how the city wastes money while our schools are deteriorating.
I would also work to “throw the bums out” and elect a new council that would support closing the airport in 2015, put a moratorium on development, and freeze wages for all city employees.”
Terence Later, Entertainment Consultant
“Woke up this morning with a well managed city budget. Took my rescued pup to “Dogtown Dog Beach” for a leash free run and a dip in the pristine Pacific. Then off to run some errands pick up my shoes at Maya Shoe repair to wear to the Palisades Park holiday lighting ceremony tonight. Next stop Evett’s Model shop for some local shopping. From there breakfast at Marmalade the new addition looks marvelous all dressed up for the holidays. Some more local shopping on Montana. Pick up my vitamins at Montana Natural. Make reservations at the recently landmarked Chez Jay for dinner after the Menorah is lit and Nativity scenes taken in. I love parking in the free for Santa Monica citizens parking structure or at the meters with my SM gratis hangtag. The kids are rehearsing with SM Symphony for the show at the newly restored SM Civic Auditorium. After a great dinner party at Chez Jay off to tuck the kids in and knowing that there’s a Mountain Lion Mama somewhere up on SM ridge telling her cubs not to cross Sunset Blvd. Peace Through Victory.”
In these two columns this week and last you’ve read the candidates as they imagine the contributions their leadership will bring to the City.
To meet the candidates in person, come to the Hometown Forum, hosted by The Mirror, this Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the Main Library at 601 Santa Monica Boulevard. Hope to see you there.