By Daniel Larios
September 19, 2014 –The Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR) steering committee voted to back Planning Commissioner Sue Himmelrich for City Council during a special closed-door meeting Thursday evening, the Lookout has learned.
Sources say that steering committee member Bruria Finkel, who was one of three swing votes in the committee to support a possible third candidate for the Council race, decided to back Himmelrich for the group’s endorsement.
Himmelrich joins incumbent councilmember Kevin McKeown and fellow Planning Commissioner Jennifer Kennedy on the SMRR slate, an outcome all three candidates were hoping for in the race for three open council seats.
“Sue Himmelrich is my personal endorsement for the third Council seat, and I look forward to serving with Jennifer and Sue on the City Council,” McKeown said in a statement in August after receiving the SMRR backing.
“We’re going to win this one for residents threatened by displacement and overdevelopment.”
“I have been working with Sue Himmelrich on the Planning Commission, and I know she is an excellent candidate,” Kennedy told the Lookout. “I consider her a part of our team to control growth and address residents' interests.”
Himmelrich, who finished fourth at the SMRR convention in August behind McKeown, former Lookout columnist Frank Gruber and Planning Commissioner Richard McKinnon, will benefit from the organization’s reputation, influential campaign literature and a sophisticated get out the vote operation. Kennedy finished fifth. (“SMRR Fails to Back Santa Monica Council Candidates,” August 4, 2014)
Gaining the backing from the steering committee is technically different than gaining the support through a convention endorsement. Candidates cannot identify themselves as SMRR endorsees on personal campaign literature
However, candidate names and pictures will appear on the organization’s materials, with no distinction being made on how candidates received the support.
There were seven members who cast votes at the steering committee’s meeting Thursday, according to souces.
They are SMRR co-chair Patricia Hoffman, former Mayor Judy Abdo, Bruria Finkel, Linda Sullivan, Michael Tarbet, Sonya Fox Sultan and Roger Thornton.
Recusing themselves from the vote were former Mayor Dennis Zane, who is running Himmelrich’s campaign; SMRR Co-Chair Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein, a candidate for School Board; Maria Loya, who is running for College Board, and Genise Schnitman, who is married to McKeown.
It is not the first time SMRR’s steering committee endorses a Council candidate. Two years ago, it voted to back Terry O’Day and Tony Vazquez, and in 2010 it voted to endorse Pam O’Connor.
Six of the seven current council members were endorsed by SMRR.