Phil Brock is running for a seat on the Santa Monica-Malibu Board of Education despite years of expectations that he would mount a second campaign for City Council.
Brock pulled papers for school board July 20 and began soliciting for the required 100 signatures. He could still request paperwork for a City Council run anytime before the closure of the nomination period but said the toxicity of local politics makes the city council race unappealing.
“I want to help people in the City and I feel right now that politics in our City Council race are so incredible divisive that it would be better for me to sit out this year,” he said.
Brock ran for council in 2014 and was the first runner-up behind Pam O’Connor. Brock received 5,854 votes, or 9.86 percent of the vote, compared to O’Connor’s 6,696 (11.28 percent).
At that time he ran a campaign highly critical of the establishment and has maintained a high profile association with Residocracy for the past two years. Residocracy has a ballot initiative before voters this year to restrict development and Residocracy founder Armen Melkonians has declared his intent to run for council.
Brock said he remains sympathetic to residents’ concerns over the state of the city but he doesn’t want to engage in a campaign that will further divisions within the city.
“I don’t want to be a politician and running for City Council with the fundraising and the battles, you have to be a politician and I don’t like the state of our city right now and I’m upset that the city is divided and the next four months is going to make it more divided,” he said.
Instead, Brock said he wants return to his civic roots in education.
“I’m a product of this district,” he said. “I started my volunteer service in Santa Monica not with Recreation and Parks but my civic volunteerism started with the sports and physical education committee of the district. I was on that committee first as a member and later as chair.”
Brock’s early professional life was also rooted in education as a teacher and coach. In addition to membership in Kiwanis and the Recreation and Parks Commission, Brock has long been a member of the Samohi Alumni Association.
“I have always been concerned with the school district issues,” he said. “I’ve always been concerned with our children and our teens.”
He said he thinks the district needs to focus on infrastructure problems and prioritize the needs of local students over those receiving permits to enter the district. He criticized the current board’s response to the PCB controversy in Malibu and said the district should have been more active in securing a new playing field at the Civic Center.
“We can’t be concerned about the money first,” he said. “We need to be concerned about the children and their education.”
The nomination period for all local races will end on Aug. 12 unless at least one incumbent fails to file. In that case, nominations will be extended through Aug. 17.
Visit www.smvote.org for more information.