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CITY HALL — Opting to avoid a showdown at this Sunday’s Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights convention, City Council hopeful Ted Winterer has decided he will seek an endorsement for a four-year council term, not a two-year term.

The decision means the two council members who were appointed to fill vacancies on the seven-member panel, Gleam Davis and Terry O’Day, will be unopposed in their bids for SMRR endorsements. Both are running for the two available two-year terms on the council.

There’s also little drama when it comes to the SMRR endorsement scenario for the three available four-year council terms.

Besides Winterer, just two other candidates are seeking SMRR endorsements for the four-year seats: incumbents Pam O’Connor and Kevin McKeown.

Had Winterer opted to go for an endorsement in the two-year race, at least one candidate would have been forced to run in November without the benefit of a SMRR endorsement — considered a powerful advantage because of the party’s reach in local politics and the boost that can come from being included on the organization’s direct mail literature.

As the election is shaping up, it’s possible that all five candidates seeking a SMRR endorsement could be successful.

Still, in one respect, Winterer’s decision was surprising. Traditionally incumbents have fared well in elections, so some observers had considered it likely Winterer would challenge Davis and O’Day for a SMRR endorsement, neither of whom has won election to the council before.

In the race to win a four-year seat, Winterer would have to knock off a City Council stalwart — either O’Connor, who has served four terms on the council, McKeown, who has served three terms, or Bob Holbrook, a non-SMRR member who has served five terms.

Winterer on Monday said the decision about which endorsement to seek was a difficult one.

“There were a lot of good reasons to run in either race and I weighed them for a long time and there was not a clear path,” he said.

“Ultimately, my family encouraged me to go for the four-year seat. The thinking is that if you’re going to work that hard you might as well go for the longer term rather than the shorter term.”

It’s still possible, however, that Winterer could shift course after the SMRR convention and opt to challenge Davis and O’Day for a two-year seat in November. His endorsement decision, though, is the strongest indicator yet of his intention to run for a four-year term.

Although there are just five candidates seeking endorsements for five council seats, SMRR could endorse fewer than five candidates, said SMRR Co-chair Patricia Hoffman.

To win an endorsement, a candidate must receive at least 55 percent of the vote from party members in attendance at the convention.

“Democracy is sometimes a sloppy process and we never know,” Hoffman said. “We have had times where we haven’t filled the full slate.”

Adding to the uncertainty this year, she said, is the fact that scores of new SMRR members are planning to attend the convention. Turnout could be as high as 400 members, she said.

SMRR’s convention is scheduled for Aug. 1 at 1:15 p.m. at John Adams Middle School Cafeteria, located at 2425 16th St. Organizers encourage the public to sign in by 12:45 p.m.

nickt@www.smdp.com

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