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McKeown, Himmelrich and O’Connor Win Santa Monica Council Seats; Pro-Airport Measure Loses in Landslide

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

November 5, 2014 -- Election Day was a good day for two City Council incumbents and one challenger, but it was not a good day for aviation interests wanting to reduce local government’s control of Santa Monica Airport.

Incumbents and political rivals Kevin McKeown and Pam O’Connor were re-elected Tuesday, according to preliminary results from the Los Angeles County Registrar’s Office. Sue Himmelrich, a planning commissioner and political ally of McKeown, was also elected.

McKeown and Himmelrich led the 14-candidate field by a wide margin with the 16-year incumbent receiving 7,475 votes. Himmelrich earned 6,907. O’Connor picked up 4,933 to earn a sixth term on the council. This put her 586 votes ahead of fourth-place Phil Brock.

The remaining order of the council election results was Frank Gruber (3,885), Jennifer Kennedy (3,794), Richard McKinnon (3,665), Michael Feinstein (2,761), Terence Later (1,406), Jerry Rubin (1,273), Jon Mann (1,180), Whitney Scott Bain (975), Nick Boles (949) and Zoë Muntaner (576).

These results do not include so-called provisional ballots, which can be a factor in close races. But that is not expected to be the case this year, and it is unlikely the results will change significantly for this race or any others after they become official.

Voters Not Persuaded by Aviation Interests

A campaign topping $800,000, including more than $500,00 from two East Coast aviation groups, was not enough to convince voters to take the ability to make changes to the airport property out of the hands of the local government. Measure D was defeated soundly by a 58-42 margin with 10,691 “no” votes and 7,641 “yes” votes.

The rival Measure LC, which keeps decision making in the hands of the council (at least on paper, judges will likely make any major decisions) and gives voters a chance to weigh in on general guidelines for development on the airport property in the event the facility closes, was approved overwhelmingly. There were 11,181 votes (59.73 percent) in favor and 7,539 votes (40.27 percent) in opposition.

The measure LC campaign paled in its fundraising, taking in more than $110,000 as of last week. But the supporters took pride in most of their money coming from Santa Monica residents and that their measure was supported by every major political organization in the city. The opposite was true for Measure D.

Malibu Back on Board

There will be a Malibu resident on the school board for the first time in six years. Craig Foster placed second in the seven-person field for four seats on Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s governing panel.

Laurie Lieberman topped the results list for the second consecutive election with 11,336 votes. Foster received 9,087. Also elected was newcomer and Santa Monica College professor Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein (9,061) and 12-year incumbent Oscar de la Torre (8,795).

Ralph Mechur became only the fourth incumbent to lose in the past 20 years, placing fifth with 8,531 votes. He was appointed to the board in 2007, and was elected unopposed in a special 2008 election. Mechur was re-elected in 2010.

Mechur could have a chance to return to the board. Ben Allen will be leaving later this year after his big win Tuesday night in the State Senate race. He easily defeated fellow Democrat Sandra Fluke to become the representative of the 26th District, which includes Santa Monica. Allen received 92,391 votes (60.78 percent) to Fluke’s 59,627 (39.12 percent).

The school board is expected to vote on Allen’s replacement. It could choose Mechur or go in a different direction.

Rare Loss for Kennedy Family

Former Santa Mayor Bobby Shriver became just the second person from the Kennedy dynasty to lose a general election (“Bobby Shriver Loss Would Be Rare Political Defeat for Kennedy Family,” November 4, 2014). He lost a bid for county supervisor to fellow Santa Monica resident and former State legislator Sheila Kuehl.

Kuehl received 114,348 votes (52.48 percent) to Shriver’s 102,319 (47.22 percent).

Real Estate Tax Hike Fails

It was a mixed bag for other local measures. The California Association of Realtors' major campaign against a proposed real estate tax hike paid off. Measure H, which would have increased the tax from $3 per $1,000 to $9 per $1,000 for transactions of more than $1 million, was defeated 10,325 votes (57.8 percent) to 7,538 (42.2 percent)

The companion Measure HH, an advisory proposal that the tax money go to affordable housing programs, won by a slim margin with 8,866 votes (50.1 percent) in favor and 8,829 opposed (49.9 percent.) However, that result is irrelevant since Measure H was rejected.

Voters approved Measure FS, a proposal to increase the residential landlords’ registration fee as a method to increase the Rent Control Board’s revenue. But it was a surprisingly close result for a city in which rent control-related proposals usually win easily. There were 8,860 votes (51.5 percent) cast in favor and 8,340 (48.5 percent) in opposition.  

The college board results featured an incumbents sweep. Nancy Greenstein topped the field of six. Also renewing their terms were Louise Jaffe, Barry Snell and Andrew Walzer.

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