When Santa Monica polling booths open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, there are three important races that will shape the City’s future: the Santa Monica City Council, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education, and the Rent Control Board.
When envisioning which candidates would be best fit to fill the spots for each respective office, The Mirror’s editorial board has looked at experience, diversity of viewpoints, and their plans for the future.
Santa Monica City Council
The Mirror endorses (all races in alphabetical order) Gleam Davis, Richard McKinnon, Terry O’Day, and Ted Winterer.
Among the remaining 11 candidates, The Mirror also recognizes Shari Davis and John C. Smith as worthy for consideration.
Gleam Davis joined the council in February 2009 to fill the seat of Herb Katz (Katz passed away a month earlier). She was elected in her own right in November 2010 for a two-year term. After she was sworn in after that election, she was selected by fellow council members to serve as Mayor Pro Tem and she has been an active voice on the council ever since. With this position under her belt, she is a likely candidate for Mayor if re-elected when council resumes its new term in December.
Davis is a big advocate for education, smart growth, and sustainability that has won her endorsements from a wide variety of groups across the city.
In the nearly four years Davis has sat on the council, she has continued to show a strong dedication to thoroughly researching the issues before the council, which has often allowed her to bring up overlooked points. She has our vote.
Richard McKinnon was appointed to the Parks & Recreation Commission in April 2010 to serve a partial term, which would have expired in June this year. However, he accepted the appointment to the Planning Commission to serve another partial term after a spot was vacated by Gwynne Pugh in April last year. While he may be seen as jumping around to many different posts in a short period of time, our editorial board believes McKinnon would make the City Council a steady home for the next four years. A committed environmentalist, he has demonstrated his savvy and commitment for City policy by working on issues such as the bike plan, the City arboretum, and citywide parks. As a non-SMRR (Santa Monicans for Renters Rights) candidate, McKinnon will bring a minority perspective that adds invaluable diversity to the City Council. He has our vote.
Terry O’Day joined the council in February 2010 to fill the seat left vacant by Mayor Ken Genser (Genser passed away a month earlier). He served nine months before being elected in his own right in November 2010 for a two-year term. As Executive Director of Environment Now, O’Day has not only been an advocate for the environment, but he has been focused on safety, housing affordability, economic justice, and education, among others. As a Pico neighborhood resident, he is in touch with a neighborhood that is largely unrepresented when it comes to elected officials. With a BA in Public Policy from Stanford University and an MBA from the Anderson School at UCLA, O’Day brings a unique combination of community service and private sector experience to the City Council. He has our vote.
Ted Winterer narrowly missed winning one of the three four-year council seats in November 2010, falling short by 56 votes (0.8 percent) of the total ballots to Bob Holbrook.
In terms of commitment, Winterer has been a Planning Commissioner since May 2009 and like McKinnon, a former Recreation and Parks Commissioner. As someone who invests time advocating for slow growth, his platform is solid when it comes to addressing traffic and parking, attention to sustainability goals, adding more parks and playing fields, fostering small business, and finding a viable solution for Santa Monica Airport. His background in the community includes being a former president of the Ocean Park Association and appointee to the City’s Workforce Housing Committee. He is also a strong education advocate. He has a background serving on steering committees of Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS), Campaign to Protect Quality Public Schools, and member of the school district’s Economic Feasibility Committee. He has our vote.
Shari Davis has been a big advocate for education, but hasn’t served on any City Commissions, which are often seen as stepping-stones to City Council. However, she served as a president of the SMMUSD PTA Council from 2009-11 and was instrumental in supporting Measures Y and YY in 2010.
John C. Smith, a former NBC news producer who is new to politics as a first time candidate, brings fresh ideas about actively promoting relief for traffic congestion, responsible development, maintaining reasonable rents, advocating for strong schools, and sustaining clean beaches and parks.
SMMUSD Board Of Education
The Mirror endorses incumbents Ben Allen, Jose Escarce, and Maria Leon-Vazquez who are seeking re-election to the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education.
Allen brings first hand knowledge of the district after growing up in the community and attending Santa Monica schools K-12. His family is involved in education: his mother is a long-time high school teacher and Santa Monica Arts Commission member while his father is a professor at UCLA. His strong support for schools and their students while finding ways to balance all issues in front of the Board of Education has earned him The Mirror’s support. He has our vote.
Leon-Vazquez, a SMMUSD Board of Education member since 2000, has been advocate for inclusion of all groups being represented equally in the school district. She has also served within the PTA at Will Rogers School, JAMS, and Samohi. With her 12 years experience on the board, she will continue to look for ways to maintain school programs amidst budget cuts in these tough economic times. She has our vote.
Escarce, also a SMMUSD Board of Education member since 2000, encourages open forum dialogue at meetings to vet out issues that are most important to students and families. He wants to close the achievement gap and foster creative and responsive learning environments. He has been active in promoting school funding measures and bonds. Like Leon-Vazquez’s breadth of knowledge on the Board Education, his years served through tough times will be an asset for the next four years. He has our vote.
Rent Control Board
The Mirror endorses incumbent Robert Kronovet and newcomer Christopher Walton for the two seats on the Rent Control Board.
Kronovet knows the issues, as he is a homeowner, business owner, and landlord. He is running on a platform for better parking for all residents, public safety, fair and balanced development, responsive local government, and improvements for our public school facilities. He has shown a strong grasp of knowledge of the issues that face the city. He has our vote.
Walton, an Attorney at Law, is a renter and will be a big voice for supporting affordable housing. As a board member, he will justly rule on petitions for rent decreases and limit evictions. If elected, we hope he will use the strengths from his professional background and use his position to fight for renters of all income levels. He has our vote.
Measure ES and GA
The Mirror endorses both Measure ES and GA on the Santa Monica ballot. Measure ES is the only way for our school district to improve its aging buildings across all campuses in the district. Measure ES will also bring in new technology for classrooms, as the State of California only funds operational costs and not improvements to bring the learning environments into the 21st Century in terms of facilities. For homeowners, the cost of this passing translates to a cap of $30 per $100,000 of assessed value. For example, a homeowner of a $500,000 house would not pay more than $150 a year. The Rent Control Board has historically allowed homeowners to pass a portion of the cost onto tenants, which would likely be $16 a year if it passes. Measure ES has our vote.
Measure GA will simply amend the annual general adjustment calculation, which will save the public money, avoid expensive lawsuits, and provide for greater transparency in the general adjustment-calculation process. Measure GA has our vote.