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Former Mayor Feinstein Could Be Making a Comeback

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By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

June 10, 2014 --Ten years after being voted off the Santa Monica City Council, former Mayor Mike Feinstein is eyeing a return to the dais.

Feinstein, who served two terms on the council and made national headlines for being one of the nation’s first Green Party mayors, will host an event next Tuesday to announce his council candidacy.

The Ocean Park resident told The Lookout earlier this year that he was “strongly considering” a run, and he made it official on Monday in an email to residents inviting them to a “gathering” in front of City Hall next Tuesday at 5 p.m., followed by a 5:45 p.m. press conference at Tongva Park.

The former mayor also created a Facebook page for his campaign. It includes a picture featuring the Santa Monica Bay and other natural surroundings with the tag “This is why I run - to preserve our natural beauty.”

A native of Greece who was adopted as an infant by an American couple, Feinstein came to Santa Monica in the mid-'80s. He co-founded the California Green Party in 1990 and became involved in local activism.

Feinstein was elected to the council in 1996 when he placed second of 13 candidates. He was re-elected four years later after receiving more votes than any other candidate. Also in 2000, Feinstein’s peers on the dais unanimously voted for him to serve a two-year term as mayor.

The success ended in 2004 when Feinstein failed to pick up the important endorsement from Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR) and placed ninth in that year’s election. His inability to gain the backing of the group that had supported him in the previous two elections was likely due to a strong stance he took two years earlier.

In the 2002 election, Feinstein backed fellow Green Josefina Aranda, even after she failed to gain the SMRR endorsement. He supported her as an alternative to SMRR-endorsee Abby Arnold. Neither candidate was elected, and Arnold finished fewer than 300 votes behind the third-place winner.

Two years later, SMRR co-founder and at the time co-Chair Denny Zane made sure everybody remembered what he called Feinstein’s betrayal by issuing a flier at the group’s endorsement convention.

The 2004 election was a tough battle, with new-comer and Kennedy family member Bobby Shriver topping the field by a wide margin. Only two of the four SMRR-endorsees (Richard Bloom and Ken Genser) were among the four candidates elected.

Feinstein has been visible since being voted out of office. He has remained involved in activism, and most recently was part of the effort that forced the City Council to reverse its approval of the Hines development on the city's east end that many people said was too large and would cause a traffic nightmare.

An interruption between council terms is not unheard of in Santa Monica. Tony Vasquez was elected in 1990, but failed in his 1994 bid when he was targeted in the police union's opposition campaign. Eighteen years later, voters returned Vazquez to the dais.

Herb Katz served on the council from 1984 to 1992 and then again from 2000 until his death in 2009.

Three seats will be on the line in November. Those who have announced they are running are Planning Commissioner Richard McKinnon, physical therapist Ken Robin, Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Phil Brock and peace activist Jerry Rubin.

There has been no official word from incumbents Pam O’Connor, Kevin McKeown and Bob Holbrook. Some political observers speculate Holbrook will not seek a record seventh term, which could lead to a large field of candidates excited about the existence of a rare open seat.

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