CITYWIDE — The initial deadline for nomination papers for elections in Santa Monica has come and gone, but the candidate field in the City Council race is far from certain.
Unlike other races for the Board of Education, Santa Monica College Board of Trustees and Rent Control Board, non-incumbents vying for the four slots on the City Council will have until Aug. 15 to get 100 signatures from registered voters in Santa Monica to the City Clerk’s Office.
That might be good news for a handful of candidates that have not yet turned in their papers.
They have Mayor Richard Bloom and City Councilmember Bobby Shriver to thank for the reprieve.
Neither will stand for reelection this year, which lengthens the deadlines for the non-incumbents, according to the City Clerk’s Office.
Bloom will instead duke it out with Assemblywoman Betsy Butler, a Democrat currently representing Assembly District 53, for the new 50th Assembly District, which includes Santa Monica and much of the Westside.
Whether or not Shriver would run was more of a mystery, and was the speculation of newspapers and politicos alike for more than a year.
Although he’s played coy with the Daily Press for some time now, saying even as late as July 13 that he wasn’t ready to come out one way or another, Shriver finally made a statement Friday.
Shriver will not — repeat, will not — run for City Council in 2012.
Much like the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil cannot predict his own actions until Feb. 2 each year, Shriver hadn’t decided whether he would run or not until last week, when he came to the conclusion that he wanted to take time and focus on his 3-year-old daughter Rosemary and 15-year-old stepdaughter Natasha.
“I like being a father, and I’ve got two girls here at amazing moments in their lives, and I want to spend the most time possible (with them),” Shriver said.
Rumors that have him running for Los Angeles County supervisor in 2014 are somewhat trumped up, Shriver said, although he’s not ready to make a decision on a race almost two years away.
“If I saw that office or another office that I thought I could work hard at and do something good in, I would run,” Shriver said. “I’m not saying that I would never run for office on any level.”
But that still leaves this race, and a number of first-time candidates that have already qualified for the ballot despite expectations of an extended deadline.
As of Thursday at 5 p.m., former Planning Commissioner and long-time columnist for The Lookout Frank Gruber, attorney Steve Duron and attorney and co-founder of the Northeast Neighbors neighborhood group Robert Seldon all had their 100 signatures validated, according to the Santa Monica City Clerk’s Office.
Gruber has been preparing for the contest since January, when he first declared his intention to run. Since he began fundraising in the spring, Gruber has raised almost $21,000 for the campaign.
His years on the Planning and Housing commissions as well as over a decade spent following the issues facing Santa Monica’s elected officials have prepared him for the job, Gruber said.
“I learned about, thought about and wrote about just about every issue for the last 11 years. Before that, I was involved in them,” Gruber said. “I have a strong knowledge of the history of Santa Monica because of the work I’ve done, reading I’ve done and people I’ve talked to.”
By comparison, Duron is a fresh face.
The attorney has lived in Santa Monica since 2007, and has a practice here. Before beginning a career in law, Duron worked on presidential campaigns for John Kerry and Barack Obama.
His focus is perceived over-development in Santa Monica while the city is in a “period of flux.”
“These decisions will affect the future and my children,” said the self-proclaimed family man.
Seldon has worked on political efforts in Santa Monica in the past, but never run for office himself.
He’d hoped to see a council with a resident-oriented majority to back up Councilmember Kevin McKeown, but felt that the options that came forward were not fitting the bill.
“I looked at who was stepping up and I didn’t see it happening,” Seldon said. “I decided to give it a shot and put my time where my mouth was.”
Also qualified for the ballot are peace activist Jerry Rubin, Mayor Pro Tem Gleam Davis, former City Councilmember Tony Vazquez and entertainment consultant Terence Later.
Those who have turned in papers but not yet been affirmed by the County Clerk include Planning Commissioner Ted Winterer and journalist John Cyrus Smith.