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|Bloom's Showing Tuesday Could Open up Santa Monica Council Race|
By Jason Islas
June7, 2012 -- After finishing second in a preliminary vote count, Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom is gearing up for a November showdown with incumbent Betsy Butler to represent Assembly District 50, and that could lure more candidates to fill his council seat.
County elections officials said they have counted 765,552 ballots, including 274,304 mail-in ballots, but they are still expecting 118,697 mail-in and 43,411 provisional ballots that could take as long as a month to count.
Still, even with some 17 percent of the votes in the county yet uncounted, Bloom is confident of having landed a spot on November's ballot after garnering 12,417 votes. Based on the preliminary count Butler finished first with 12,519 votes.
Torie Osborn finished third with 11,744 votes, while Bradly S. Torgan, the only Republican in the race, finished fourth with 11,730 votes.
“With my success in the primary, I now know I won't be returning to the City Council,” Bloom said.
The victory was “bittersweet,” Bloom said, because now he will have to leave behind his 13-year tenure on the dais that was launched with an emotionally charged victory in a hotly contested special election in 1999.
Bloom said that his first step would be to “breathe a sigh of
relief,” before beginning the task of revamping his strategy for
the November election.
On November 6, Bloom will face Butler, who is winding down her first term as a State Assembly representative for the 53rd district, which is made up of mostly coastal towns like El Segundo, Manhattan Beach and Torrance.
Bloom's departure from Santa Monica politics, along with the possibility that Council member Bobby Shriver will not seek reelection, means that for the first time in 18 years the council could have two freshman council members elected.
In 1994, the two first-time Council members were Pam O'Connor, who is still on the dais, and Ruth Ebner, who did not seek re-election after her first term.
Since then, council members have been known to hang on to their posts, with Council member Bob Holbrook serving since 1990.
The last time the council saw two new faces on the dais, it was due to the deaths of two council members.
In 2009, the council chose Gleam Davis to fill the seat vacated by the death of Council member Herb Katz, and the following year chose Terry O'Day to complete Mayor Ken Genser's term after he also died in office.
If Bloom and Shriver, who was elected in 2004, don't seek re-election, it could encourage candidates who would normally be hesitant to join the November race for four council seats, said former Mayor Michael Feinstein..
“On one hand, I think people are generally happy with the way things are run” in Santa Monica, said Feinstein, who failed to win a third term in 2004.
On the other, he said, “I do think the possibility of having multiple new seats could energize our democracy and bring new people into the contest.”
“The incumbency has a naturally dulling effect on people who are aspiring to run,” said Feinstein.
So far, four candidates have formally announced that they will join the November race for four open council seats.
They are incumbent Gleam Davis; former Lookout columnist Frank Gruber; education activist Shari Davis, who is making her second bid for the council, and community activist Jerry Rubin, who has run four previous times.
“How much backlog of people who've wanted to run is there?” Feinstein asked, rhetorically.
The answer will likely become clear as the contest for the two new seats heats up this fall.
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