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Dem Club Endorses Genser, Bloom; Shriver Falls Short

By Jorge Casuso

September 3 – Ignoring the recommendations of its leadership, Santa Monica Democratic Club members voted Tuesday to endorse City Council incumbents Ken Genser and Richard Bloom, but rejected Bobby Shriver, a member of the Kennedy clan.

Shriver, along with challenger Ted Winterer, an author of a ballot measure that would curb most commercial development in the city, failed to win the necessary 60 percent of the vote in the three ballots allowed under the club’s bylaws.

Julie Lopez Dad, a former Planning Commissioner who chairs the steering committee that recommended endorsing Shriver, Genser and Winterer, called the club’s decision not to endorse Sen. Ted Kennedy’s nephew “ludicrous.”

“It is ludicrous that the Democratic Club did not endorse a candidate whose Democratic credentials outshine those of all the rest of us, who is committed to solving our societal problems of the unhoused, who listens to all residents and actively seeks ways to address their concerns, who questions City staff on issues rather than accepting standardized answers, and who is deeply committed to and is living Democratic values,” Dad said.

Last month the committee voted to recommend endorsing Genser, who along with Bloom is backed by Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR); Shriver, who is backed by SMRR’s opposition and Winterer, an independent candidate who failed to win the powerful tenants group’s nod.

Bloom, Dad said, was viewed by the steering committee as too pro-development, a charge the incumbent adamantly denies, telling the members Tuesday that he is for “slow and responsible development.”

Tuesday’s vote was the result of a strong showing by longtime SMRR members and leaders who also have long been members of the club, Dad said.

“Not receiving the endorsement of the Santa Monica Democratic Club was the result of the heavy SMRR component, which we are glad we have, in the Club,” Dad said referring to Shriver’s bid.

“A large part of the SMRR members were concerned about protecting the endorsements for the SMRR-endorsed candidates,” she said. “Another part of the group, the anti-RIFT part, certainly did not intend to vote for Bobby since he has not taken a position (their position) on the initiative.”

Following SMRR’s lead, the club voted to only endorse two candidates – Genser and Bloom – in the race for four open council seats. The tenant group’s decision marked the first time it left two seats unendorsed in its 30-year history.

If Shriver, who did not seek the SMRR endorsement, likely failed to win the club’s backing because he has the support of the tenant group’s foes, including the Chamber of Commerce, Winterer failed to win the necessary votes in large part due to his position on Prop T.

While SMRR members voted not to take a position on the initiative, which would cap most commercial development in the city at 75,000 square feet a year for 15 years, many of the tenant group’s leaders oppose the measure on the November 4 ballot.

Also seeking the club’s endorsement in the race for four open council seats were challengers Susan J. Hartley, Herbert Silverstein and Michael Kovac and Mayor Herb Katz, who was unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting.

Jerry Rubin, who took part in the candidate presentations, removed himself from the race for the club’s endorsement and members to back Hartley.

“It’s really time for change,” Rubin told the crowd. “Vote for Susan Hartley. Forget about voting for me. You need a woman on the ticket and someone representing change.”

Pam O’Connor is currently the only woman on the seven-member council.

The council endorsement wasn’t the only closely watched vote. In the race for three four-year seats on the School Board the club voted to endorse incumbents Jose Escarce and Maria Leon Vazquez, as well as newcomer Ben Allen, who, as in the SMRR convention, garnered the most votes.

Escarce -- who was endorsed by SMRR’s steering committee after falling one-vote short at the group’s convention -- squeezed in on the club’s second ballot after once again falling one vote short of the necessary 60 percent.

The club, by acclimation, also voted to endorse incumbent Ralph Mechur, who is running unopposed in the race to complete the final two years of an appointed four-year term.

In addition, the club Tuesday also voted to endorse incumbents Margaret Q. Quiñónez-Pérez, Susan Aminoff and Rob Rader in the race for three seats on the College Board.

It also endorsed Joel C. Koury and Christopher Braun in the race for two open seats on the Rent Control Board.

As a result, the club's slate will exactly mirror the SMRR slate for local candidate races on the November ballot.

The club will weigh in on Prop T, as well as a $295 million Santa Monica College bond and a proposed update to Santa Monica's Utility Users tax (UUT), at a meeting September 10.

The winning candidates and measures will appear on the club’s slate card and their literature will be available at the group’s campaign headquarters, which is expected to draw a large volunteer force and party backers who support Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential bid.

The County Democratic Party is expected to make its endorsements – which don’t always mirror the club’s – on September 9.

Both endorsements are expected to be important in an election that promises to draw a record number of voters to the polls for a hotly contested Presidential race and the highly divisive Prop T, also known as the Residents’ Initiative to Fight Traffic (RIFT).


“It is ludicrous that the Democratic Club did not endorse a candidate whose Democratic credentials outshine those of all the rest of us." Julie Dad




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