Armen Melkonians, founder of the Residocracy movement, speaks to a crowd of supporters gathered outside of City Hall on Tuesday. The group was there to drop off signatures calling for a referendum against a City Council-approved development. (Daniel Archuleta

CITYWIDE — Infiltrators, start your engines.
The city’s newest political party will endorse City Council candidates through an online vote by its members, according to the group’s founder Armen Melkonians.
Residocracy was formed earlier this year to oppose large development projects in the city. Through a referendum, it successfully challenged council’s controversial decision to approve the Hines development project.
As Residocracy is still in its infant stages, some details of the e-vote still need to be worked out, Melkonians said. They plan to send questionnaires to every candidate, the answers to which will be posted online before the vote.
Residocracy’s 12-member board may provide recommendations to the membership before the vote, with a list of reasons why they support certain candidates, but that hasn’t been decided, Melkonians said.
Leadership from the city’s largest political party, Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR), recently complained that they were being infiltrated by outside groups interested only in winning its highly sought-after endorsement. SMRR’s endorsement convention was, by most accounts, filled with groups bullet-voting their favored candidate. The membership was unable to reach a consensus on a council candidate and none were endorsed.
SMRR requires members to pay a $25 annual fee.
What does it take to become Residocracy member?
“Just go online and sign up,” Melkonians said.
Members are required to provide a first name, e-mail address, city, and ZIP code.
Melkonians said that, as of now, they are confident in their membership.
“It’s a representation of our views and the people who have already joined since it’s such a new organization,” he said. “The only thing we have not decided yet is would there be a cut-off date for the votes to count for the endorsement process, so we don’t have some kind of last minute infiltration. But we haven’t seen a spike in membership. It’s steady as before.”
The group hosted a rowdy candidates’ forum earlier this month and asked the attendees to fill out a survey. Councilmember Kevin McKeown, Recreation and Parks Chair Phil Brock, and Planning Commissioner Richard McKinnon all scored well but no endorsements were made.
“That was for informational purposes,” Melkonians said of the forum and the survey. “We thought it was important to get the forum out early before the candidates actually qualified and that allowed people to get to know their viewpoints even before they’re going through their process.”
Links to footage of the forum will placed on the e-vote portion of Residocracy’s website.
The questionnaires will go out in the near future, Melkonians said, with the e-vote process beginning shortly thereafter.
“I think it’s important to get the voice out before the full electioneering takes full effect and I think that’s part of the flaw I see in our democratic system is that once the money gets into the democratic election the voices are heard differently,” he said. “Our system is basically trying to work around those deficiencies in the system.”

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