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Santa Monica Council to Elect New Mayor

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

December 11, 2012 -- Mayor Pro Tem Gleam Davis will likely be Santa Monica's new mayor when the City Council votes to fill the mostly ceremonial post Tuesday, according to sources.

Davis, the former co-chair of the powerful political group Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights (SMRR), was chosen by the Council in 2009 to replace Herb Katz, who died in office.

“I think everyone has a shot except me and the two new people,” said Council member Bob Holbrook, referring to Council members Tony Vazquez and Ted Winterer who will be sworn in Tuesday night.

He added that he had never seen anybody be elected mayor in their first term on Council.

“No one has asked me if I'm interested,” he added.

“Over the last ten years, we've been passing the mayorship around so everyone gets a chance,” Holbrook said.

Everyone, that is, except Council member Kevin McKeown who has sat on the Council 14 years without ever getting a turn at mayor.

However, with two newly elected council members on the dais for the first time in 20 years, the outcome could be less predictable than previous years.

Both new Council members were elected with the help of SMRR and McKeown share McKeowns concern that too many large developments are being routinely approved, leaving some to speculate about whether they might support McKeown as mayor.

McKeown has tried -- and failed -- to secure the votes necessary to be mayor in the past.

Holbrook said, “I tried to get Herb (Katz) to vote for Kevin, but I couldn't get him the four votes.”

Sources say that the deciding vote would likely come down to Davis, who has served as mayor pro tem for the last two years.

And some have wondered about the possibility of a split term.

For example, in 1998, the Council voted to let Genser and Council member Pam O'Connor split the mayorship. Genser was mayor for one year while O'Connor was mayor pro tem, then they swapped positions the next year.

Some speculate that McKeown might be attempting to cut a deal with Davis to split a term as mayor.

Others note that Davis' allegiances lie with O'Connor who, in 2009 went toe-to-toe with former mayor Ken Genser to appoint Davis to the open seat.

O'Connor, who is also backed by SMRR, succeeded after sticking with Davis for seven rounds of voting.

While O'Connor's support for Davis' appointment to the Council was staunch, she has never supported McKeown in a bid for mayor.

Council member Terry O'Day -- who was appointed to the Council in 2010 after Genser died -- has also never served as mayor, but sources said that he wouldn't be seeking the position.

“Let's just see what happens. Maybe we'll be surprised,” said Holbrook, adding that he still wasn't sure who he would support.

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