CITY HALL — An anti-incumbent backlash could be about to sweep the nation, but if it does, the municipal employees of Santa Monica won’t be going along for the ride.
The Coalition of Santa Monica Employees, which represents the interests of some 1600 workers, this week issued a vote of confidence in the status quo by endorsing all five sitting City Council members running in November’s election.
The coalition endorsed Kevin McKeown, Bob Holbrook and Pam O’Connor for four-year terms and backed Gleam Davis and Terry O’Day for two-year terms.
The move by the coalition, which also backed full slates of incumbents in 2008 and 2006, came as little surprise to those in the political arena.
Lauralee Asch, the coalition’s president, said the decision to back known quantities reflected satisfaction with actions taken by members of the council.
“They’ve shown a big commitment to keeping city services the same and understanding the balance between the budget and services and the employees of the city that are committed to keeping services to the community at the same level,” she said.
Eight candidates sought the coalition’s endorsement for five open seats. Asch declined to name the candidates who were not endorsed.
“We interviewed everyone with an open mind and there were a lot of great people. We just felt we needed the experience of the people that have been there and the continuity,” she said.
The coalition also voted to support Measure Y, the ballot initiative that would increase the local sales tax by a half percent — to 10.25 percent — in order to raise an estimated $12 million annually for City Hall. The group did not take a position on an advisory ballot measure that will ask voters whether half of the money raised from the tax hike should be used to support local public schools.
“It’s a complicated issue. We think it’s good for the community, but it was just hard to reach a consensus on the advisory measure so we decided to stay neutral,” Asch said.
The endorsement decisions were made by the CSME’s board of directors, made up of representatives from nine employee bargaining units. The coalition’s members perform a wide range of duties, from street sweeping to defending City Hall in court. A panel of six board members conducted interviews with candidates before making endorsement recommendations to the full board.
The coalition will help endorsed candidates during campaign season by sending out mailers and offering to help with canvassing and call banking, Asch said.
“It’s great news for our campaign,” O’Day said of the endorsement, adding that it’s an honor to receive support from the “people who know the city well and provide the services that are so highly regarded.”
Councilman McKeown, a three-term incumbent, added: “This endorsement means a lot to me because in my serving the residents of Santa Monica it’s essential that I enjoy the support of the many people at City Hall I work with and rely upon.”