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Councilmember Negrete Declares Victory in Reelection Bid

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By Jorge Casuso

November 28, 2022 -- After nearly one month watching her third place lead slowly expand, Council member Lana Negrete on Monday declared victory in her bid for reelection.
Lana Negrete
Councilmember Lana Negrete

Negrete had cemented her already insurmountable margin after the latest vote tallies were released last Tuesday, but she had not officially declared victory ("Status Quo Prevails in Santa Monica," November 22, 2022).

"I am claiming victory," Negrete told the Lookout Monday night. "I'm excited and I'm grateful."

With her reelection, Negrete arguably becomes the most powerful member on the Council she was appointed to in June 2021 after Kevin McKeown's abrupt resignation.

She now represents the swing vote in deadlocks between the three "Change" members and the three members backed by Santa Monica's liberal establishment.

"I had to just dive in at the deep end of the pool with no training," said Negrete, who served less a year on the newly created Police Oversight Commission before filling the vacant seat.

"I think I get to just focus now and breathe because I have four years," she said. "I have an opportunity to plan bigger and see what I can get done."

Negrete said she will focus on the three platforms of her campaign -- enhancing public safety, tackling homelessness and helping businesses recover from the coronavirus shutdown.

"Now I can deepen my work with police," said Negrete, whose Santa Monica Music Center works with public safety and the School District to offer programs for local youth.

She praised recently hired Police Chief Ramon Batista for "working on things that are effective and really impactful.

"We did something visible," Negrete said. "Reed Park looks vastly different, so does Douglas Park."

Negrete would also like to make the City's efforts to fight homelessness more accountable. "Who are we giving money to?" she said. "And are we going after all the money?"

As the only shop owner on the Council, Negrete said she also wants to help small local businesses survive in a City known for its onerous codes and regulations.

"We have many businesses still continuing to close their doors," she said. "There are some new businesses, but not enough.

Instead of "harassing" homeowners renting homeshare rooms, code enforcers should be focusing on large property owners who have let their properties sit vacant.

"I'm more concerned abut the place on Main and Ashland that's been closed off," she said. The City should try to "get landlords into the mindset of 'how can we help you lease this.'"

To hang on to her seat, Negrete survived the most relentlessly negative political campaign in recent Santa Monica history.

Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights (SMRR), the Democratic Club and Unite HERE Local 11, the hotel workers union, fired off a volley of hit pieces, circulated unfounded rumors and sent volunteers door-to-door in a concerted effort to take Negrete down.

The opposing campaign painted Negrete -- the only rent control tenant on the Council -- as a threat to rent control and attempted to tie the former Independent-turned-Democrat as a Trump supporter ("Hotel Workers Union Steps Up Attacks," October 10, 2022).

"I didn't read everything," Negrete said. "I kept my blinders on and I really focused. I'm glad it happened because it was the biggest eye opener to see who the people are behind all this and how they operate.

"I don't know why they would engage in that much active hate when they have to work with people," she said. "They wanted to make sure that the only people on the Council were controlled by them.

"Whenever a group is that invested, we have to ask questions," Negrete said.

In the end, Negrete believes the insistently negative campaign may have turned voters off, with some choosing to sit the Council race out and others giving her a sympathy vote.

"This machine that ran a negative campaign thinks, 'See, look at the votes. This is what Santa Monica really wants," Negrete said.

"I think all it represents is that they were able to misinform more people than we thought."

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