Backs Incumbents, Opposes "T"
By Lookout Staff
October 6 – The group that led the fight for increased
City funding for the School District is putting experience before
change, backing every incumbent on the November 4 race for School
Board and City Council.
The Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS) Steering Committee last week
voted to endorse the two incumbents in the race for three open School Board
seats -- Jose Escarce and Maria Leon Vazquez – as well as challenger Ben
The group also endorsed Mayor Herb Katz and Council members Richard Bloom,
Ken Genser Bobby Shriver in the race for four open council seats.
“Endorsing the incumbents running for re-election is a reflection of
CEPS’ confidence in the leaders who have helped to increase resources
to our schools,” said Shari Davis, chair of CEPS.
“Newcomer Ben Allen has shown his commitment to and understanding of
the issues and will be a great addition to the Board,” Davis said.
Challenger Chris Bley, the only other candidate in the School Board race, is
mounting an extensive canvassing campaign to help counter key endorsements from
major groups that have thrown their weight behind his opponents.
Allen, Escarce and Vazquez have received the backing of Santa Monicans for
Renters’ Rights (SMRR), the Teachers Union and the local Democratic Club.
SMRR’s endorsement brings with it a hefty warchest and an army of campaign
workers, though their ranks may dwindle during an local election that has seen
suprisingly little serious opposition to the incumbents.
SMRR, for example, did not bother to field City Council candidates to oppose
Katz, a longtime foe of the powerful tenants group, or Shriver, who did not
seek the group’s backing. It was the first time in its 30-year history
that SMRR backed only two council candidates in a race for four open seats.
CEPS also voted to oppose Measure T, which would cap most commercial development
in Santa Monica at 75,000 square feet a year for 15 years.
Opponents, which include a wide array of groups and civic leaders from both
ends of the political spectrum, fear the measure would curb future revenues
that could be used to help fund the School District and other public services.
“Our positions on the ballot measures reflect the mission of CEPS to maximize
resources for our public schools in this time of so much financial uncertainty,”
“CEPS emphasis has been on increasing funding to our schools from local
sources and advocating for adequate levels of funding of education statewide,”
In the same vein, the group also voted to back Prop SM, which
would continue and update the City’s Utilities Tax on telecommunication
In addition, the steering committee voted to support Prop A, a $295-million
bond measure to replace outdated facilities at Santa Monica College.
CEPS was behind a movement to force the City to provide more funding for public
education, resulting in the addition of more than $18 million
per year over the past nine years for schools in Santa Monica
“This funding has helped to strengthen programs and retain excellent
teachers in our District, leading to improvements in academic
achievement of which we can all be proud,” Davis said.