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Santa Monica Dems Back Kuehl for County Supervisor

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By Daniel Larios
Staff Writer

April 25, 2014 -- The Santa Monica Democratic Club endorsed Sheila Kuehl for county supervisor Wednesday night, but did not pick a candidate to back in the election to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman.

Kuehl, a former state senator and assembly member, won the endorsement in a runaway with 84 percent of the vote, but none of the hopefuls for Waxman’s seat were able to get the 60 percent necessary to get the group’s endorsement.

Club members voted to back Kuehl following a brief debate that featured two other candidates -- West Hollywood Councilmember John Duran and former Malibu Mayor Pamela Conley Ulich. Former Santa Monica Mayor Bobby Shriver, who is also in the race, did not attend the event due to a prior engagement, according to his representative.

“I’m thrilled,” Keuhl told the Lookout. “I got 84 percent of the vote when you need 60 percent. This is my hometown and I’m just very happy.”

Campaign supporter and volunteer Dinah Minot attended the meeting as Shriver's representative. She said she did not have the authority to speak on his behalf during the debate. However, Kuehl volunteered to speak for him, triggering laughter in the room.

“We’re going to be fair here,” she said. “We know what he would say.”

Kuehl proceeded to summarize what she said were Shriver’s position on jails and inmates with mental health issues, citing his stance concerning treatment as a positive alternative to incarceration. When it came to the topic of the Department of Children and Family Services' handling of foster care, Kuehl took a swipe at Shiver.

“Bobby doesn't speak about this issue," she said. "Except to say that it’s a problem and we need to address it."

The candidates also spoke about the transit crisis within the district.

“There’s no magic wand when it comes to transportation,” Conley Ulich said. “We live in a world where we use our cars. The first thing we need to do is to educate and empower ourselves to get out of our cars. We have to take personal responsibility for this crisis.”

Duran said, “Any ideas are going to require major investment of capital. Part of the problem is the way public transit is funded. Federal funding comes from the House, which is run by Speaker Boehner, who isn’t a fan of urban areas. But where he’s willing to commit dollars are places where there are high riderships: where there are high riderships, federal dollars will flow. We need to increase our use of public transit.”

In the endorsement selection for the congressional candidates, former County Controller Wendy Greuel and state Sen. Ted Lieu received enough votes in the first round of balloting to advance to a second round.

But neither candidate was able to earn enough votes needed for an endorsement, mirroring the Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights endorsement meeting last month (“Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights Make Key Endorsements Ahead of June Primary,” March 24, 2014).

The other candidates in the race to succeed Waxman, who is retiring after four decades in office, are attorneys David Kanuth, Barbara Mulvaney and Zein Obagi, NPR talk show host Matt Miller and social worker Kristie Holmes.

The club also voted to back Derek Cressman for secretary of state by an overwhelming majority over state Sen. Alex Padilla, who was represented by a proxy at the meeting, and software pioneer Jeff Drobman.

Regarding other state contests, the local Democrats endorsed Jerry Brown for governor, Gavin Newsom for lieutenant governor, Kamala Harris for attorney general, John Chiang for treasurer, David Jones for insurance commissioner, Tom Torlakson for superintendent of public instruction and Jerome Horton for the district's seat on the Board of Equalization.

Democratic club officials announced the organization will make its endorsement for state senator, assembly and controller May 14.  However, the group will not make an endorsement for the election of county sheriff, officials said.

In each of the races, the top two vote-getters in the June 3 primary, regardless of party affiliation, will advance to the General Election in November.

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