Landlord Could Make History
By Jorge Casuso
November 26 – Republican Robert Kronovet is poised
to become the first candidate opposed by Santa Monica’s powerful
tenants group to win a seat on the 30-year-old Rent Control Board,
according to the latest vote count.
The tally of absentee and provisional ballots released by the Los Angeles County
Registrar on Monday gave Kronovet an eight-vote lead over Christopher
Braun -- 14,921 to 14,913.
“We’re cautiously optimistic,” Kronovet said. “We always
felt we were going to win. It’s exciting.”
Incumbent Board Chair Joel Koury, who along with Braun was backed by Santa
Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR) -- cruised to an easy victory with
But Kronovet -- who had three strikes against him as a landlord, real estate
broker and Republican -- would be the winner if the trend in absentee ballots
The absentee count on November 5, the day after the election, showed Kronovet
ahead of Braun in the absentee count by more than 600 votes.
Despite falling behind by 576 votes when the ballots cast at the
polls were counted, Kronovet has made up the margin with the absentee
ballots counted after election day.
And there are more to count before the registrar certifies the results on December
“We anticipate the final count being ahead by 300 votes,” said
Kronovet, who chairs the board of the Pico Improvement District. “Every
While rent board challengers who oppose SMRR have been little more than long
shots or sacrificial lambs, Kronovet mounted a serious challenge,
running a professional campaign out of an office in his real estate
firm on Pico.
He also counted on the support of Santa Monica’s Republican
Women’s Club, whose members volunteered, helping the only
Republican candidate on the local November 4 ballot get out the
“We worked on this for a year,” Kronovet said. “We didn’t
do this haphazardly.”
November’s election was Kronovet’s second bid for a rent board
seat in two years, falling 5,000 votes short of the third-place finisher.
While other rent board members in the past have been landlords – most
notably Planning Commissioner Jay Johnson – none has ever won a seat without
the backing of SMRR, the powerful tenants group that has controlled City Hall
for most of the past three decades.
If Kronovet hangs on, he will be the only successful candidate
for a seat on the Rent, School or College boards in the past two
elections to win without SMRR’s backing.
That a Republican candidate in a City that is only 14 percent Republican would
win a seat that always has been considered a shoo-in for the liberal
tenants group would make the victory even more impressive.