It was a good day for incumbents at the annual Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights convention this weekend.
Three of the four possible endorsements for city council went to incumbents as did two of three for school board, three of three for the SMC board and one of two for Rent Control Board.
As of July 29, 15 candidates had requested paperwork to run for City Council but only six individuals sought the SMRR endorsement: Tony Vazquez, Gleam Davis, Ted Winterer, Terry O’Day, Jennifer Kennedy and Armen Melkonians.
To secure an endorsement from the convention, a candidate must receive 55 percent of the vote. If the first round of voting fails to nominate enough candidates to fill the available positions, candidates with less than 20 percent of the vote are eliminated and a second round of voting is held feature the candidates who secured 20-55 percent during the first round. The process can repeat a third time if necessary.
Vazquez, Winterer and Davis secured nominations in the first round of voting with 141, 140 and 114 votes out of 198. O’Day, Kennedy and Melkonians were fourth, fifth and sixth. Melkonians was eliminated in the second round and neither O’Day or Kennedy received 55 percent in the third round.
The event’s only moment of drama occurred between the second and third rounds of voting for City Council.
SMRR’s bylaws allow for up to three rounds of voting when selecting candidates, but the third round isn’t guaranteed. Typically a member would make a motion to hold the third round. This year, Nicole Phillis, who currently serves on the Rent Control Board but is not up for election this year, made a motion to end voting after two rounds. The motion met with vocal opposition from the crowd and prompted a substitute motion to take the vote to a third round.
After speeches for and against the motion a third round of voting was held but it failed to pick a candidate. In 2014, voting on council candidates ended after two rounds.
SMRR members endorsed school board incumbents Ralph Mechur and Maria Leon-Vazquez. Three seats are open on the board this year and challenger Jon Kean won the last slot. Challenger Phil Brock had sought the endorsement after choosing to run for school board instead of City Council.
SMC Board incumbents Rob Rader, Susan Aminoff and Margaret Quinones won endorsements over challenger Sion Roy.
Only two individuals requested the endorsement for Rent Control Board, incumbent Anastasia Foster and challenger Caroline Torosis. Both secured endorsements.
The convention attendees also voted on endorsements for ballot measures. Members endorsed the City’s proposed tax increase and modifications to the city’s anti-corruption laws. However members voted not to support the Land Use Voter Empowerment Initiative. The wording of the LUVE vote was specific and based on the motion, campaign materials will be able to say that SMRR does not support LUVE but will not say the organization opposes it.
As passed, the motion read, “SMRR does not support the Residocracy initiative, and instead wants the steering committee, community and City Council to work on a measure requiring voter approval of any project proposed beyond the standards of a City Council approved zoning code.”
Current Councilman Kevin McKeown said the vote showed a strong opposition to LUVE by SMRR members.
“I’ve said all along that as people come to understand how extreme the Residocracy initiative really is, and how full of unintended consequences, they will instead look for ways to deal with traffic and growth that don’t sacrifice our inclusive community values,” he said.
If the membership fails to fill all available endorsement slots, the steering committee can chose to fill the vacancies. Those decisions are not bound by the convention voting and in 2014 the committee selected Sue Himmelrich to round out the council endorsements.
This year, the committee will meet in the coming weeks to determine if, and who, they want to fill the final endorsement slot.