By Jason Islas
September 5, 2012 - - Four City Council candidates received the blessing Monday of a political action committee (PAC) that represents the bargaining units of Santa Monica's more than 1,600 non-safety employees.
The 12-year-old Coalition of Santa Monica Employees -- which has successufully negotiated for increased health and retirement benefits -- announced Monday that it would support incumbent Council members Gleam Davis and Terry O'Day in the November 6 race for four council seats.
The PAC also backed Planning Commissioner Ted Winterer and former Lookout columnist Frank Gruber for the two council seats left vacant after Mayor Richard Bloom and Council member Bobby Shriver announced they would not seek reelection.
“There were several strong candidates, however there are only four openings on the Council," said Coalition President Lauralee Asch. "The Coalition strongly supports the re-election of Council members Davis and O’Day to their first full term on the Council.
"Commissioner Ted Winterer has a long record of service to Santa Monica and journalist Frank Gruber demonstrated familiarity with the issues facing our City and shared refreshing ideas for moving forward.”
The candidates were chosen after the employee PAC conducted a multi-step endorsement process, including a questionnaire and in-person interviews, Ash said.
Both incumbents had received the group's endorsement for two-year terms in the 2010 election, along with Council members Kevin McKeown, Pam O'Connor and Bob Holbrook, who successfully ran for four-year terms.
In 2010, the group also endorsed Measure Y -- a half-cent sales and use tax -- which passed with 60 percent of the vote.
Asch added, “The Coalition is mindful of the impact the City Council’s actions have on its members’ mandate to provide services to the community. The Council’s actions also play a role in how the community interacts with City employees.”
Said Gruber, “Obviously the Coalition is interested in the welfare of city employees, but when I met with the Coalition, what impressed me was their broad and sophisticated understanding that the interests of their members was connected to those of the city itself.”
“I’m especially proud about this endorsement, because of the high level of professionalism demonstrated by Santa Monica city employees at every level and in every job classification, from inside City Hall to the city yards, from libraries to parks.”
Said Winterer, "Santa Monica has some of the most dedicated city employees in California -- I appreciate their support for my candidacy."
Neither O'Day nor Davis were available for comment.
According to the Coalition's website, the Board of Directors is "made of representative(s) appointed by each bargaining unit to act on their behalf to deal with issues affecting all non-safety employees equally.”
Among the group's accomplishements listed on the site are the negotiation of the Health Benefits Agreement with built-in cost of living increases and increased employee retirement benefits.