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Challengers Poised to Upend Political Establishment

Bob Kronovetrealty
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Santa Monica

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By Jorge Casuso

November 5, 2020 -- A slate of City Council challengers is poised for a historic victory that would shift the balance of power in Santa Monica overnight.

Phil Brock, Christine Parra and Oscar de la Torre continued building on their Wednesday leads in the race for four full-term Council seats as the number of uncounted ballots dwindles.

On Thursday, 1,799 votes were counted in the Council race, down from 2,393 votes counted on Wednesday, according to Santa Monica City Clerk Denise Anderson-Warren.

That brings the total number of votes counted to 48,799, including votes in the uncontested race for a 2-year Council seat, according to the City Clerk. Santa Monica has approximately 71,970 registered voters.

"We still do not have a number of how many (ballots) are left to be counted," Anderson-Warren told The Lookout.

"We did receive notification that there are 895 Conditional Voter Registration/Provisional ballots for Santa Monica, but we still don’t have the number of outstanding Vote by Mail ballots for the city."

As of 4:21 Thursday, Brock led with 16,678 votes, followed by Councilmember Gleam Davis with 16,297 and Parra with 15,603 votes.

The latest count solidifies De la Torre's hold on fourth place by expanding his lead over Council member Terry O'Day from 232 votes on Wednesday to 387 votes.

Councilmember Ted Winterer is sixth with 14,399 votes, followed by Councilmember Ana Jara with 13,578 votes.

Mario Fonda-Bonardi, a member of the the Santa Monicans for Change slate, has 10,877 votes.

If the three challengers hold on, they will deal a shocking blow to Santa Monica's political establishment, which has seen only three incumbents ousted since 1994.

Resident activists believe the leads built by the challengers will be insurmountable, given that a record 21 candidates are diluting the vote.

Diana Gordon, who heads the slow-growth Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (SMCLC), said the election represents a "tectonic shift."

"This is a political earthquake in Santa Monica," Gordon said. "It's hard enough to unseat one council incumbent. Unseating three is unprecedented."

Mary Malow, who sponsored a successful term limit initiative in 2018, noted that two of the incumbents who would be ousted were initially appointed, instead of elected, to the Council.

"It's historic," Marlow said. "I'm excited."

A canvas of the votes by the LA County Registrar has been set for Friday.

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