YOUR COLUMN HERE — For the past 30 plus years, including 2014, Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights has had an open process by which we choose whom to endorse. This year that process failed to select any City Council candidates. Therefore, we have turned to our backup process in which the Steering Committee, minus those on leave while working on other individual campaigns, decides.
Our Steering Committee selection process is like the process used by the other groups that participated in the SMRR convention this year. We debate among ourselves and choose the candidates that most reflect our values and priorities.
SMRR gave many people and groups the chance to influence our endorsements. They failed to do so. All of the groups organized people to join SMRR. Each had their own favorites for whom they lobbied and voted.
It is interesting that Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights may have been the only organization in the room that did not ask its members to block or bullet vote. The SMRR Steering Committee did not recommend candidates at this or prior conventions. In fact, longtime core SMRR members personally voted for most, if not every candidate requesting endorsement.
We have often had factions within SMRR try to choose the convention picks. This was the first time we had so many outside groups join. They used strategies that were not successful such as bullet voting and the “third ballot” strategy. As in our previous conventions, the Standing Rules of the Day, on which we all voted, state that there shall be no more than three rounds of voting for any office. This is not a guarantee of three rounds.
Since there was no change between rounds one and two of the voting, the Chair ruled out a third round. There was a motion to appeal the ruling of the chair. The motion failed and the convention was adjourned.
The convention was an unprecedented logistical nightmare. There were 500 people in attendance. We had expected 350-400. We had to put a speaker outside as well as inside. We heard from 25 candidates and took more than 14 votes, five by written ballot, and one that required a division of the house. Because of having so many people there, it took us two extra hours to get through our business.
The staff at John Adams Middle School was great. They helped set up and keep the room from becoming overcrowded, and they stayed late to clean up.
I wish I could say that a good time was had by all, but I suspect that a good time was had by few. It is clear to me that it’s time for SMRR to change its process for the selection of candidates. There is a lot to think about.
Patricia Hoffman is the Chair of Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights