Five out of seven seats on the City Council are open this election year. Three are full-term (four-year) seats. The front runner is Kevin McKeown, who is seeking his fourth term. I disagree with McKeown on many issues, especially his social engineering agenda which often undermines residents’ needs. However, McKeown’s willingness to compromise (as he did on dedicated bicycle lanes for two recent projects; 20th Street improvements and the Agensys development) has earned my respect and vote. Special props for being “slow growth,” responding to constituents and for his accessibility.

Bob Holbrook is running for his sixth term. While his voting record is erratic, he’s the one stopgap against City Council pie-in-the-sky Utopian proposals. We need a common sense sort of guy. He’s also got my vote.

Planning Commissioner Ted Winterer is the new kid on the block running for a full term. He’s resident-oriented and for restricted development. He also received my vote.

Pam O’Connor (going for a fifth term) and I agree on virtually nothing. I find her arrogant, uncommunicative and seriously out of touch with residents. Her willingness to take large sums of money from developers, hotels and real estate interests for her various political campaigns and her almost unanimous pro-development voting record tells me that she views her constituency as only a means to keep her in office.

O’Connor also sits on both the Metro (transit) Board and the Expo Construction Authority Board of Directors. The Expo Line coming to Santa Monica around 2015 will run down the middle of Colorado Avenue and have its train repair yard near Exposition Boulevard. Her backing of a maintenance yard with its detrimental impacts on the Pico Neighborhood and the at-grade Colorado alignment with its irreparable impacts on traffic and street safety doesn’t bode well for the city’s future.

All of the candidates have racked up a share of endorsements from one or another of the usual power players such as Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, school groups, public safety bargaining units, various labor unions and others. With three seats open and four high-profile candidates, it’ll be interesting to see who comes up short.

Daniel Cody, who I know from the Santa Monica Red Cross Board of Directors, has a good fix on what needs to be done to run a financially stable, residents-first City Hall. But, he’s relatively unknown and lacks the resources to fully compete against the “Big Four” and win. Maybe in 2012?

Other candidates are also vying for full-term seats. Jean McNeil-Wyner offers her extensive history of involvement with community service groups, but like others in the race, she’s a long shot.

A pair of two-year seats representing the unfinished terms of the late Herb Katz and Ken Genser are up for grabs. They are temporarily occupied by City Council appointees Terry O’Day and Gleam Davis. Winners in this election will serve out the remainder of Katz’ and Genser’s terms, which expire in 2012.

Davis, who I’ve been told thinks she has victory in the bag, has her core following with school supporters. Her recent vote for extra building height for the proposed Bergamot Transit Village at the current Paper-Mate site countered resident preferences for lower building heights.

Pronouncements she’s made alluding to selling your house and moving out of town if you don’t like taxes and not criticizing decisions if you haven’t sat on City Council are overly righteous and condescending. It seems Davis has become “O’Connor Lite.” Do we need someone else on the dais with a complete lack of empathy for us regular folk?

Environmentalist Terry O’Day, like Davis, has received a number of key endorsements, however O’Day’s opposition to a 2008 ballot measure that would have temporarily capped the city’s commercial growth turns me off, big time. O’Day has never met a developer he wouldn’t take money from or whose project he wouldn’t vote for. Many of O’Day’s contributors are shadowy back-room players, developers, their investors, real estate and hotel interests — many who have pending projects with City Hall.

O’Day wraps himself in the pro-environment flag while supporting development and commercial growth. Any new development, especially large ones, will make demands on the environment. O’Day should know that these impacts can only be partially mitigated no matter how many solar panels are deployed or traffic reduction plans are filed. I find his whole ”green” persona contradictory and questionable.

Other candidates running for two-year terms include current Rent Control Board Commissioner Robert Kronovet, whose amped-up campaign is taking no prisoners. He might just shock a lot of people when the votes are counted as he did when he ran for the Rent Control Board in 2008.

Attorney Susan Hartley and Kronovet lag well behind Davis and O’Day in big money fundraising and support, however, both individuals think outside of the box and would bring new excitement to the City Council. They both have my vote.

Bill can be reached at mr.bilbau@gmail.com

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