The 2014 election season is beginning to heat up. With the Primary Election scheduled for June 3 – which is about 10 weeks from now – the Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR) membership voted on Sunday who to endorse for several key elections, including LA County Supervisor (Third District), State Assembly (50th District), State Senate (26th District), and U.S. Congress (33rd District).
Several candidates for each respective office appeared at the SMRR membership meeting at The Church in Ocean Park, including State Senator Ted Lieu, former Los Angeles councilwoman and mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel, former Santa Monica mayor Bobby Shriver, current Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) board member Ben Allen, activist Sandra Fluke, former Assemblywoman Betsy Butler, and congressional candidate Marianne Williamson.
When all the votes were cast, only three candidates in the four primary races received SMRR endorsements: Ben Allen, Richard Bloom, and Sheila Kuehl.
In the race for the 33rd Congressional District, none of candidates earned more than the 55 percent of the vote from the SMRR membership. Accordingly, SMRR will not endorse any of the candidates seeking to replace Henry Waxman in the June 3 Primary Election. However, the two candidates who come out of the primary would be eligible again to jockey for SMRR’s endorsement for the General Election in November.
Allen, Butler, Lieu, Shriver, and Williamson each spoke to the SMRR membership for three minutes to explain why they deserved the group’s endorsement. While Bloom and Kuehl were not personally present to make their respective cases, each candidate had representatives speak on their behalf about their campaign.
Flanked by five supporters including former Santa Monica mayors Judy Abdo and Denny Zane, Greuel touted issues of affordable housing and transportation in making her case of why SMRR should endorse her.
“When you think about it, we’re going to lose an icon in Henry Waxman,” Greuel told the SMRR contingency. “No one will ever be able to replace him, but what you want is a fighter, and a doer, and someone who is going to be able to stand up on the issues that are important to all of us.”
Williamson, an independent challenging Greuel and Lieu for Waxman’s congressional seat, said Washington, D.C., is “for sale” and the voice of the American people are threatened by a “hostile takeover multinational corporations.”
“We have actually created a legalized system of bribery and corruption,” Williamson said. “If you send me to Congress, I will do everything I can to counter the fact we have now violated and transgressed and broken the most basic social contract between the American people and our government.”
Sharing his experiences as an immigrant and a renter, Lieu boasted a platform promoting affordable housing and addressing climate change.
“I’ve had good landlords and I’ve had bad landlords, that’s why I am a strong supporter of renters’ rights,” Lieu said, adding he recently sponsored legislation addressing climate change.
In the race for LA County Supervisor, Shriver was the only candidate to speak on his own behalf.
Recalling his first residence in Santa Monica on a couch in a rent-controlled building, Shriver said he felt city had a real community and boasted bringing the Annenberg Community Beach House to one of the region’s most popular destinations.
While Kuehl was not at the SMRR meeting, Zane stumped on her behalf and spoke of her record promoting affordable housing and the environment.
A resident of Marina Del Rey, Butler said she would make for a great representative in the State Senate’s 26th District because she understands the impacts of overdevelopment.
“The Supervisors are trying to make the Marina into another Miami,” Butler told SMRR’s members. “I’m against the Hines project. It’s not necessary. There’s way too much development.”
Her challenger, Allen, cited his record as a SMMUSD board member advocating for improved public education.
Among his key talking points including advocating for multimodal transportation options, maintenance of affordable housing in the region, and promoting socio-economic diversity in Santa Monica and the region.
Bloom was absent from the SMRR meeting, but his stumping contingency cited Bloom’s current legislative record in the State Assembly as reason for him to be re-elected. Further, reelection to the Assembly would give Bloom some seniority, allowing him to have leverage in advocating for policies benefitting Santa Monica and surrounding communities.
Key city leaders in attendance at the SMRR membership meeting included: Mayor Pam O’Connor; Council members Gleam Davis, Kevin McKeown, Tony Vazquez, and Ted Winterer; SMMUSD board member Oscar de la Torre; Planning Commissioners Sue Himmelrich, Jennifer Kennedy, and Richard McKinnon; and, former Santa Monica mayor Michael Feinstein.
After the candidates made their presentations and the votes were submitted, the SMRR membership updated its platform, making tweaks to a few policy positions on key Santa Monica issues such as affordable housing, development, and light rail.