CITY HALL — There should be no shortage of candidates for the City Council to consider next week as it looks to replace its late colleague Herb Katz, who died last month after a long battle with cancer.
That’s because a crowded field of 25 residents submitted applications for the council seat as of Tuesday’s deadline, according to the City Clerk’s Office.
They include familiar names such as Jon Mann and Ted Winterer, both of whom ran in the November election, and newcomers like William Nole Evans, an attorney, and Steven Rodman, a 26-year-resident of the city.
It also includes residents who currently serve on city commissions or elected bodies, such as Oscar de la Torre, a Board of Education member.
An appointment to fill Katz’ seat is scheduled to be made next Tuesday. Should the council fail to reach an agreement within 30 days of declaring the seat vacant, which it did on Jan. 27, a special election will be held.
Many see the vacant seat as an opportunity to bring new blood to the council, given that challengers have a difficult time beating incumbents in general elections. The seat is so coveted that the last few weeks have been filled with speculation as to what, if any, deals are being made behind closed doors. Some believe that Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR), the city’s leading political party that holds a majority on the council, will use its muscle to get one of its members elected, while others believe developers and big business will win out.
Among the candidates are several current Planning Commissioners, including Gleam Davis and Terry O’Day, both of whom ran in 2006, and Gwynne Pugh, an architect who served two years as chairman.
Davis is also the co-chair of SMRR, which could give Davis an advantage over others.
A 32-year-resident of Santa Monica, Pugh, 56, said that he is motivated in part to serve on the council to see through the adoption of the Land Use and Circulation Element, which the commission has also been working on for several years. The planning document would help dictate development in Santa Monica for the next 20 years or more.
“I want to make sure that we correctly follow through and it happens the way it should happen,” Pugh said.
Many of the candidates ran for council in previous elections, including a handful from the most recent one in November, such as environmentalist Linda Piera-Avila, Herbert Silverstein, a retired stock broker, attorney Susan Hartley, Michael Kovac, a small business advisor, and the youngest of them all, John Blakely, who is an actor and entrepreneur. Patricia Hoffman, who serves as the co-chair of SMRR, has also previously ran.
Several candidates said that they had always considered running for office but were deterred by the time commitment involved in a campaign.
“This is a chance for me to serve, which is the part I’m interested in, without the campaign, which is not the part I’m interested in,” Christian Boyce, a computer consultant, said.
Boyce, 46, became more involved in civic matters several years ago when he lobbied City Hall to designate a preferential parking zone on his block in the Pico Neighborhood. He also accused a consultant hired by City Hall to count cars parked on his street of fabricating the results to show a lower number. He has long been interested in council matters.
“It’s like if you don’t vote, you shouldn’t complain,” he said. “Here is a chance to get involved so I might as well try.”
A number of candidates come from the medical and law fields, including Richard Kale, a real estate attorney who points to his experience working with different municipalities for more than two decades. For Kale, who lives north of Montana Avenue, the most pressing issues facing the city include density and traffic.
“I think making the city more livable for all residents is kind of the overarching goal,” he said.
He is joined by Tim Maher, a 13-year resident who has considered becoming more involved with the City Council for years. Maher, a certified public accountant, said that he is concerned with maintaining the overall quality of life in the city.
Several officials have indicated an interest in diversifying the council by perhaps adding another woman. The only woman on the council is Mayor Pro Tem Pam O’Connor.
Among the women who have submitted their names are Jean McNeil-Wyner, a community and physician liaison at Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital, Ann Greenspun, a registered nurse, and Kecia Brooke Weller, a disability rights advocate for the Westside Regional Center.
Greenspun served eight years on the board of directors for the Bayside District Corp. and was also the chairwoman for the Chamber of Commerce in 2001.
A 32-year resident, Greenspun said that she will look to other cities for best practices instead of just reinventing the wheel, and will respect the recommendations of city commissions.
“I am concerned about leaving a stable footprint for who comes behind us,” Greenspun said. “There are a lot of action plans that are in the process of being implemented and I think that’s great.
“We still have issues that are challenging that are being worked on but there are also opportunities.”
Weller, who lives in the Wilshire-Montana neighborhood, said that she is running to advocate for the rights of disabled residents.
“I feel that I will do a great deal of good work for people with disabilities in City Hall,” she said.
Residents Gordon Potik, a retired math and computer teacher for Los Angeles Unified; Barbara Andres, who works in the field of medical reporting; and Daniel Klein, who is in corporate finance; have also submitted their names for consideration.
The two latest entrants are Myung Deering and Dinah Minot Hubley, who made their candidacies known Tuesday evening.