Won’t Challenge Kronovet Victory
By Jorge Casuso
December 8 – The Santa Monicans for Renters’
Rights (SMRR) steering committee voted Saturday not to challenge
Republican landlord Robert Kronovet’s 45-vote victory that
made him the first candidate opposed by the powerful tenants group
to win a seat on the Rent Control Board.
The vote not to call for a recount came after SMRR leaders were assured by
officials at the Los Angeles County Registrar’s office that the vote count
-- which gave Kronovet a 15,186 to 15,124 victory over SMRR candidate Chris
Braun -- was accurate.
Rent Board President Joel C. Koury, who was backed by SMRR, finished first
in a landslide with 22,601 votes in the race for two open seats.
“We investigated the balloting process and had discussions with the registrar
to make sure the votes were correctly counted and processed,”
said Dennis Zane, a founder and leader of SMRR.
“At the end, we felt there was no compelling reason to call for a recount,”
Zane said. “It was generally agreed that nothing was amiss.”
Kronovet said he was ready for a recount, but was not surprised SMRR decided
against embarking on a process that would have cost the group between $50,000
and $60,000, according to his campaign’s estimates.
“I was prepared to meet them head on, because the voters had spoken,”
Kronovet said. “We weren’t going to give them an inch on the recount.
“It would have cost them a lot of money, and they would not have prevailed,”
A self-described “fiscal conservative and social liberal,” Kronovet
vowed to bring change to the five-member rent board, which has been
monopolized by SMRR since its founding 30 years ago.
“We’re going to establish the checks and balances the rent control
board hasn’t had,” Kronovet said. “There’s going to
be more of a balance between tenants’ needs and landlords’ needs.
It’s not going to be a one-sided committee.”
Kronovet said he plans to team up with the four SMRR board members to create
a rent board that “works with neighborhoods.”
“I’m going to work with all of them,” said Kronovet , who
chairs the Pico Improvement District. “The taxpayer doesn’t want
us bickering. They want results, and we’re going to give it to them.”
“I represent all the voters in the city of Santa Monica – all those
who voted for Kronovet and all those who voted against Kronovet,” he said.
“They voted for leadership, and I’m going to give it to them.”
Zane said the steering committee weighed whether Kronovet would be a “disruptive”
force on the board.
“There is always a concern whether one individual would be disruptive
or not,” said Zane. “But Kronovet is not likely to be disruptive.”
The mistake SMRR made was taking the rent board race for granted in a year
that saw little drama in the local contests, Zane said.
The powerful tenants group chose to back only two candidates in the race for
four open seats on the City Council, the first time that had ever
happened in the group’s 30-year history. SMRR also backed
the front runners in the races for School and College boards that
saw only four candidates running for three seats in each contest.
“The lesson to be learned is that we not take the rent board seats for
granted” Zane said. “It appeared that the elections had no drama.”
Kronovet, who had made previous bids for Rent Board and City Council, capitalized
on name recognition and on a record turnout that saw thousands of new voters.
“He had built up an identity,” said Zane, who is a political strategist
and consultant. “And there were a lot of voters who did not have a history
of voting, and he squeaked through.”
Kronovet, who won in an overwhelmingly Democratic city once dubbed “the
People’s Republic,” capitalized on a high turnout for the Presidential
race and a campaign that focused on cashing in on the Republican turnout.
Now, he hopes the election will be a shot in the arm for a party
that represents less than 20 14 percent of Santa Monica’s
“Robert Kronovet and the other members are going to rebuild
the Republican Party out,” he said. “This election was
a rebirth for the Republican Party in California.”