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Shriver Still Undecided

By Jorge Casuso

July 31 -- One week before next Friday’s deadline, Council member Bobby Shriver has still not pulled papers to run for one of four open seats on the City Council.

His delayed decision -- the three other incumbents all have thrown their hats into the ring -- has led to widespread speculation about potential candidates who could jockey for his seat if Shriver decides not to run.

If Shriver stays out of the race, potential candidates would have until August 15 to pull papers and gather the necessary 100 signatures to make the ballot.

“The word is no word still,” said a Shriver aide when asked Thursday if the Council member plans to run. He added that Shriver would likely make a decision in the next few days, since he will be out of town most of next week.

Shriver would likely be a favorite in a council race that has seen 16 potential candidates pull papers, including incumbent Mayor Herb Katz, Mayor Pro Tem Richard Bloom and Council member Ken Genser.

Shriver swept to an easy victory in 2004 with one of the largest vote counts in Santa Monica history and a $400,000 campaign war chest that counted on contributions from such celebrities as Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and Clint Eastwood.

Although he ran with the endorsement of the Chamber of Commerce and the backing of the owners of two luxury hotels -- Hotel Casa del Mar and Shutters on the Beach, Shriver has been a maverick since joining the seven-member council, casting important votes against business interests.

Earlier this month he voted with Genser and Council member Kevin McKeown, who belong to the slow-growth faction of Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, against taller heights at proposed activity centers on Santa Monica’s main streets.

His vote to limit heights under the new Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) comes in the wake of his dissenting vote against a development agreement for the Civic Center Village, which he also argued was too tall for the beachfront city.

A leading force in the effort to fight homelessness, Shriver called for the hiring by the City of a homeless czar and lobbied hard to designate three vacant buildings on the Veterans Administration grounds in Westwood into housing and services for mentally ill homeless veterans.

When Shriver's work to convert the VA buildings was acknowledged in a recent council resolution resolving to support the conversion of the buildings, he asked that his name be removed, saying he was frustrated and angry it has taken three years before than plan was finally given the go-ahead.("Sobering News on Homeless Veteran Front; Shriver Protests Lack of Action," July 10, 2008)

Shriver also has not indicated what position he plans to take on the Residents Initiative to Fight Traffic (RIFT), which would limit most commercial development to 75,000 square feet a year.

Shriver, who was not present when the council grudgingly placed the measure on the November ballot, said he is still studying the measure and seeking answers to key questions.

Although he has missed numerous meetings due to a busy schedule, Shriver is considered a major local political force whose probing questions and sometimes-ambitious plans have led to important policy decisions.

If Shriver fails to run, there has been speculation that Planning Commissioner Gleam Davis, who made an unsuccessful council bid two years ago with SMRR’s backing, could enter the race.

Fellow Planning Commissioner Terry O’Day, who also ran in 2006 with the backing of the business community, has not discounted running if Shriver gives up his seat.

A member of the Kennedy family who decided to run for office after the City threatened homeowners with hefty fines for tall hedges, Shriver finished a commanding first in the 2004 council race, with 23,260 votes, followed by Bloom, with 16,710 votes.

Katz, a member of the Chamber of Commerce slate, finished with 14,475 votes, followed by Genser with 13,408 votes.

The four incumbents, who sit on a council whose seven members have served a combined total of 91 years, would be difficult to beat.

Four of the potential challengers have made previous bids for the council and lost by large margins.

Jon Louis Mann likely holds the record for the number of council bids, having run eight times, the last two in 2004 and 2006 as Mann and the previous six in 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000 as Stevens, before legally assuming his wife’s last name.

Jerry Rubin, a regular speaker at City meetings and leader of the unsuccessful effort to save Downtown ficus trees, ran in 2000 and 2002, while potential council candidate Linda Armstrong has run unsuccessfully in the two past elections.

Jenna Linnekens, who lost in her sole bid two years ago, also has pulled papers.

Two City commissioners also have pulled papers -- Ted Winterer, who sits on the City’s Recreation and Parks Commission, and Susan J. Hartley, a member of the Airport Commission. Both are vocal supporters of RIFT.

Seven other first-time candidates are also hoping to make the ballot -- Primo Anthony DeJesus III, Robert Joseph Miner, Fred Loetterle, Kerri Spiegl, Herbert Silverstein, Linda M. Piera-Ávila and John Blakely.






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