Endorses Genser, Bloom; Escarce, Meister Fall Short for School
By Jorge Casuso
August 3 -- Santa Monica’s powerful tenants group
on Sunday backed incumbents Ken Genser and Richard Bloom in the
race for four open City Council seats and gave the nod to newcomer
Ben Allen and incumbent Maria Leon Vazquez in the race for four
seats on the School Board.
A bid by Ted Winterer -- a slow-growth advocate backed by City Council member
Kevin McKeown -- to win a council endorsement failed, as did bids by School
Board incumbent Jose Escarce and challenger Judith Meister.
The race between Escarce and Meister reached a third and final ballot, with
Escarce falling just one vote short of the necessary 57 votes in the final two
In the race for three open seats on the College Board, the three incumbents
-- Margaret Quiñónez-Pérez, Susan Aminoff and Rob Rader
-- easily won the membership’s backing by acclimation.
Most of the drama Sunday centered on the debate over the Residents Initiative
to Fight Traffic (RIFT) and the dramatic School Board race, which saw a group
of Special Education parents mount a successful effort to deny Escarce what
would have been his third SMRR endorsement.
The strong backing of the Teachers Union and of SMRR leader Dennis Zane wasn’t
enough to push Escarce over the top. Meister, a PTA president who had a child
in Special Education, managed to draw enough votes to require the maximum number
The two, along with potential challenger Chris Bley, who also failed to win
the group’s endorsement, will battle it out with Allen and Leon Vazquez
for three open seats after Ralph Mechur easily won the group’s backing
to finish the final two years of a vacated seat.
Brian Hutchings, a frequent speaker at City Council meetings, is the only potential
candidate who has pulled papers to run for Mechur’s seat.
The race for council was quickly decided, with Ken Genser garnering 121 votes
and Richard Bloom 103 from the standing room only crowd.
Genser cited his credentials in fighting “huge development agreements,”
an issue he said is “very alive now.”
Winterer -- an author of RIFT who sits on the City’s Recreation and Parks
Commission -- sought the group’s nod as an anti-growth advocate concerned
about “traffic and over-development in the city.”
After failing to win on the first ballot, Winterer tried a second time and
once again fell short. A third attempt was thwarted when the membership voted
to adjourn the meeting.
Linda Armstrong, who has run twice for council, also sought the group’s
endorsement and failed.
Council member Bobby Shriller, who along with incumbent Mayor Herb Katz, is
running for reelection spent most of the convention gathering signatures.
Although he was endorsed by SMRR’s foes four years ago, Shriver gathered
some three dozen signatures Sunday, about one-third of the 100 required to make
The deadline for candidates to submit their nominating petitions
is Friday. If School Board member Kathy Wisnicki does not pull papers
by then, the deadline to submit papers for that race would be extended
until August 13.
In the the race for two open seats on the Rent Control Board, incumbent
Joel Koury and challenger Christopher Braun won the nod by acclimation.