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Santa Monica City Council Incumbents Mostly Quiet on Potential Re-Election Bids

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Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

January 26, 2016 -- Four Santa Monica City Council seats will be on the line in November, but how many incumbents will be competing for them remains a mystery.

The Lookout contacted the incumbents on Monday, and only Ted Winterer confirmed he will run.

Mayor Tony Vazquez did not immediately respond and Terry O’Day said he had not determined his plans.

Gleam Davis wrote in an email, “I have been tied up with my day job and other matters, so I am not prepared to make an announcement yet.”

Incumbents usually choose to run for re-election in Santa Monica, a city with an electorate that more often than not votes for them. In the past two decades, 35 council seats have been contested and only seven times has an incumbent chosen not to run.

Just one incumbent has lost an election in those two decades--Mike Feinstein in 2004.

He faced a backlash that year from traditional supporters who didn’t approve of his behavior in 2002 when he encouraged voters to reject one of the council candidates endorsed by Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR).

It was also the year that Bobby Shriver came on the scene with a recognizable name and lots of money to spend. He was easily the top vote-getter.

The three incumbents not named Feinstein were also elected that year in the contest for four seats.

All four incumbents would be seeking a second consecutive full term on the council this November.

Davis and O’Day were elected to partial terms in 2010 following appointments to the council to fill vacated seats. They were both elected to a full term in 2012.

Also in 2012, Winterer was elected for the first time after two consecutive unsuccessful runs and Vazquez won a seat 18 years after losing a re-election bid to the council.

The four incumbents received the backing of SMRR in 2012.

Nearly four decades since its creation, SMRR remains a powerful force in this city. SMRR-backed candidates rarely lose, although Pam O’Connor won a re-election bid last year without the group’s endorsement.

Other local elections will take place in November. Three Board of Education seats will be on the line. If they decide to run, Jose Escarce and Maria Leon-Vazquez would both be seeking a fifth consecutive term on board.

Ralph Mechur, who would be the other incumbent in the race if he decided to pursue it, has technically only held his seat since last January when he was appointed to the board.

Mechur was briefly off the board after he lost a re-election bid in November 2014. Also that November, Board member Ben Allen was elected to the State Senate, creating the Board of Education vacancy Mechur was appointed to fill.

That marked the second time Mechur was appointed to the board. It also happened in 2007 after Emily Bloomfield stepped down to move to another state. Mechur kept that seat in an uncontested special election in 2008 and was elected to a full term in 2010.

Also on the local ballot in November will be contests for two seats on the Rent Control Board and three positions on the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees. Ballot measures are also possible.


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