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Field of Council Hopefuls Narrows

By Jorge Casuso

August 11 – Nineteen potential candidates -- including all four incumbents and a member of the Kennedy family -- met Monday’s deadline to submit signatures to qualify for the November 2 race for four open seats on the City Council.

The incumbents were joined by more than a dozen challengers who are grouping into slates for what promises to be one of the most hotly contested races for local office in years.

Two of the incumbents -- Mayor Richard Bloom and Councilman Ken Genser -- are backed by Santa Monicans for Renter’ Rights (SMRR), the powerful tenants’ group that also endorsed former school board president Patricia Hoffman and Pico Neighborhood activist Maria Loya earlier this month.

In addition to the SMRR endorsement -- which translates into thousands of renters’ votes -- the four candidates received the backing of the Coalition to Support the Living Wage, which guarantees an army of campaign workers from local hotels and restaurants.

Councilman Michael Feinstein -- who failed to win both the tenant and labor groups’ backing -- will run as an independent.

The other incumbent, Herb Katz, is expected to win the backing of the Chamber of Commerce, which entered the political arena this year and has organized a political action committee, which has raised money and launched a website.

Also expected to win the chamber’s nod are Mat Dinolfo, a doctor of internal medicine who made a surprisingly strong showing in the 2002 council race, and Tom Viscount, the Red Cross’ director of resources, development and communications.

One council hopeful who is expected not to seek endorsements is Bobby Shiver, a member of the Kennedy family who is the brother of Maria Shriver and brother-in-law of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

A State Parks Commissioner, Shriver joined the political fray after fighting City Hall over its hedge law. A homeowner North of Montana and a liberal with strong environmental credentials, Shriver has the potential to appeal to a wide voter base.

Three other challengers -- local political columnist Bill Bauer, Pico neighborhood activist Kathryn Morea and former council candidate David Cole -- forged a slate called “Team for Change,” which began its attack on the SMRR establishment Tuesday.

Also submitting papers by Monday’s deadline were Leticia Maria Anderson, a nurse; Brian Andrus, a systems analyst; Linda Armstrong, a data entry operator; Jonathan Mann, a fight attendant who made four unsuccessful council runs as John Stevens; Lorene “Leah” Mendelsohn, a community volunteer; Stephen H. Silberkraus, a businessman and Mike Smith, an engineer/home builder.

Five of the council hopefuls -- Bauer, Cole, Dinolfo, Katz and Morea – have already qualified for the ballot.

A dozen candidates who had pulled papers did not submit the necessary signatures by Monday’s deadline. Some reportedly stayed out of the race to back existing slates.

They include Jerry Rubin and Chuck Allord, who ran in 2000 and 2002; former Pico Neighborhood Association heads Don Gray, who made unsuccessful bids in a 1999 special election and in 2000, and Peter Tigler, and Pro Se, who made an unsuccessful bid two years ago.

Also dropping out of the running was Jeffrey Weinstein, who helped organize opponents of a 44-unit affordable housing development on Main Street.

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