By Jorge Casuso
August 15 – The November local elections are shaping
up to be one of the least competitive in recent memory, with only
12 candidates vying for nine seats in non-City Council races.
In the race for four open council seats, 13 candidates submitted the necessary
100 signatures of qualified voters to make the November 4 ballot, according
to a review by the Los Angeles County Registrar.
Two council candidates and one Rent Control Board candidate failed to qualify,
while School Board candidate Judith Meister withdrew from the race. (“Meister
Withdraws from School Board Race,” August 14, 2008)
All four council incumbents – Mayor Herb Katz, Mayor Pro Tem Richard
Bloom and Council members Ken Genser and Bobby Shriver – made the ballot.
Bloom and Genser received the endorsement of Santa Monicans for Renters’
Rights (SMRR), which for the first time in 30 years endorsed only two council
candidates in a race for four open seats. Katz and Shriver are expected to receive
the backing of the city’s business community.
The four incumbents will be challenged by three candidates who have made previous
council bids – Jonathan Mann, who is running for the ninth time, and Jerry
Rubin and Linda Armstrong, who are making their third council bids.
They will be joined on the ballot by six newcomers, including 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 the Residents Initiative to Fight Traffic (RIFT),
which would cap most commercial development at 75,000 square feet a year for
Also making the ballot were newcomers Herbert Silverstein, Linda M. Piera-Avila,
John Blakely and Michael Kovac.
In the race for three full-term seats on the School Board, two incumbents –
Maria Leon Vazquez and Jose Escarce -- garnered the necessary number of signatures
to make the ballot. Incumbent Kathy Wisnicki, a Malibu resident, is not running
Incumbent Ralph Mechur will run uncontested in the race to serve the final
two years of an appointed term.
Joining the three incumbents on the ballot are Ben Allen, a former student
regent for the University of California system, and Chris Bley. Only Bley failed
to win the SMRR endorsement.
In the race for three seats on the College Board, all three incumbents -- Margaret
Q. Quiñónez-Pérez, Susan Aminoff and Rob Rader –
have qualified for the ballot. The only potential challenger is Heidi Hoeck,
who submitted qualifying petitions Friday. The three incumbents are endorsed
In 2006, SMRR-backed candidates won every open seat on the School and College
boards, as well as on the Rent Board.
In the race for two open seats on the Rent Board, the powerful tenants group
endorsed Joel C. Koury, the only incumbent in the race, and Christopher Braun.
Robert Kronovet, the only other candidate to make the ballot, ran two years
ago for a seat on the board, which for that past three decades has been composed
entirely of SMRR-backed candidates. He also made a previous bid for City Council.
In addition to the individual races and RIFT, there are two other local measures
on the ballot -- a proposed update to Santa Monica's Utility Users tax (UUT)
and a $295 million Santa Monica College bond to fund modernization projects
on the half-century-old main campus and its satellite facilities. ("College
Board Places $295 million Bond Measure on November Ballot," July 8, 2008)
SMRR is supporting the City tax measure and the College Bond. The group has
not taken a stand on RIFT.