CITY HALL — The field of candidates vying for an open seat on the City Council could be packed with the ghosts of elections past.
While the City Clerk’s Office has not received any applications to date from residents interested in serving late Councilmember Herb Katz’ term through 2010, a number of people active in the community have said they intend to submit papers before the Feb. 17 deadline, including several familiar faces from recent races.
They include Terry O’Day, the chairman of the Planning Commission and candidate in the 2006 election, Patricia Hoffman, the co-chair of Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights and contender in the 2004 election, and Ted Winterer, the first runner-up in the most recent contest in November.
Susan Hartley, a former Airport Commissioner, is also considering throwing her name in the mix. Gleam Davis, a Planning Commissioner who also ran in 2006, has also been mentioned as a possible candidate. Davis serves as the co-chair of SMRR, the strongest political group in the city that holds a 4-2 majority on the council.
Katz died in January after a long battle with cancer. The long-time councilmember had just been re-elected before his death.
The council is expected to make an appointment at its Feb. 24 meeting. If officials do not fill the seat within 30 days of declaring it vacant, which it did on Jan. 27, a special election will need to be held.
Hoffman, who came in fifth place behind three councilmembers and then newcomer Bobby Shriver more than four years ago, said it is difficult to run against incumbents, adding that the current situation presents an opportunity to attain a seat without going up against a candidate in office.
“When I got into the race, I had pretty high expectations and at the very last minute we had a young phenom get in and once Bobby was in it, it was clear I wasn’t going to win,” Hoffman, who finished about 800 votes out of fourth place, said. “In the last couple of races, I would’ve been running against slates of incumbents and it’s difficult to break into that.”
Hoffman, 60, said she brings a wealth of knowledge in fiscal management through her experiences serving on the Board of Education during budget cuts and her years running the front office for a family practice for which her husband was the physician.
She has also served on the board of directors for the Bayside District Corp. the past seven years.
“The number one thing above everything is how much I love Santa Monica,” she said.
Another fifth-place finisher, Winterer, who serves as the vice president of the Ocean Park Association, said he is giving the council another shot because of his concerns with preserving the socioeconomic diversity in the city through affordable housing, and continuing financial support to the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District in light of the anticipated cuts from the state.
Winterer, 51, said he believes any of the current slate of candidates would serve the community well.
“They all have shown their interest in sitting on the council by running in the election the last couple of years,” he said.
Many residents called on the council to appoint Winterer given that the election was just a few months ago. The council last month opted to open the application process.
“City Council should listen to the voters, not their political cronies, and replace Katz, who came in fourth, with the person who came in fifth, Ted Winterer,” Hartley said. “Should yet another vacancy occur, the next person after Ted should be appointed, and that happens to be me.”
The Sunset Park resident and lawyer pulled in nearly 10,000 votes in the November election.
Hartley, who co-founded the Santa Monica Treesavers and supported Measure T, a slow-growth initiative, listed her priorities as preserving the small beach town community by limiting height and density, stopping airport pollution and improving the urban forest.
Whoever is appointed should reflect the balance that Katz would have brought to his work, O’Day said.
“If I were to make this decision, I would want someone who represented Herb’s legacy well but someone who’ll fit well with the councilmembers,” he said. “At the end of the day these folks have to work with the person for a couple of years, there’s no guarantee that the person appointed to this position gets re-elected in 2010 to finish Herb’s term.”
O’Day, who serves as the executive director of Environment Now, said one of the reasons why he is applying for appointment is to work on the Land Use and Circulation Element, which is a 20-year planning guideline for City Hall.
“The city is a great place to live and with my kids growing up here, I want it to be a great place for them when they grow up,” he said.
The list of candidates could be without a few repeat council hopefuls, such as Jerry Rubin and Linda Armstrong, both of whom have run for election at least three times. Rubin dropped out of the campaign in the final weeks of the 2002 election for health and political reasons.
Rubin said he doesn’t believe he has a good chance at being appointed.
“If I put my name in the hat, I don’t think any of the councilmembers would consider it in the first place,” he said.
Instead the council should consider other candidates who have shown a willingness to serve in the past and garnered a high number of votes, Rubin said.
Armstrong, a computer data entry operator, has yet to make a decision.
“My feeling is Ted Winterer should definitely get it,” she said. “To fill it with anyone else would be the council showing it’s usual arrogance.”