Thousands of dollars in contributions from outsiders to independent expenditure committees are flooding the local City Council races making it difficult for candidates to control their messages. It takes a savvy voter to find out who's donating. (Photo courtesy Google Images).

It might seem like the 2016 election is already in full swing, but the local campaign season actually begins on Monday, July 18.

As of Monday, potential candidates for local office will be able to request the official nomination packets from the City Clerk’s office. Those packets must be returned by Aug. 12 but the nomination period could be extended to Aug. 17 if at least one incumbent fails to file by Aug. 12. A final list of qualified candidates will be available a few days after the closing date.

Several individuals have already declared their intent to run for local offices and if those individuals have been fundraising, they have been required to file financial paperwork. So far, Dominick Bei, Gleam Davis, Jennifer Kennedy, Tony Vazquez and Ted Winterer filed fundraising documents for City Council. Susan Aminoff, Margaret Quinones-Perez and Rob Rader have filed fundraising documents for Santa Monica College Board of Trustees. Jon Kean and Ralph Mechur have filed fundraising documents related to SMMUSD Board of Education.

However, all of those candidates and anyone else planning to run must still complete the nomination packets available Monday.

Those packets provide instructions on gathering signatures (at least 100 signatures from registered voters are required), paying required fees, candidate intention statements, conflict of interest forms and other documents.

The City Clerk’s office will hold two workshops Monday for anyone considering a run for office at 8:30 a.m. at 4:30 p.m.

City Clerk Denise Anderson-Warren said the workshops run about an hour depending on questions and provide an important opportunity for candidates and supporters to learn about the process.

“I always recommend that people come to workshops because it gives an opportunity for candidates and treasurers or whoever to ask questions and hear questions they might not thought of to ask,” she said.

She said common topics of discussion include rules for who can gather signatures, where campaign signs can be placed and ballot designations. The designation is a three word combination that describes the candidates primary vocation, profession or occupation. Some descriptions are banned by the Secretary of State and Anderson-Warren said her staff works with candidates as best they can to settle on an acceptable description.

Nomination packets are available for the duration of the nomination period but the workshops are only held on opening day.

Anderson-Warren said she strongly encourages anyone picking up a packet outside of the workshop to schedule an appointment to guarantee there’s enough time to walk them through the process.

“We would like and prefer if they make appointments because the process to sit down with them and go through the paperwork takes about 20 minutes and we want to make sure that we’re here and we have adequate time,” she said.

Anderson-Warren said the two workshops offered on Monday are both useful and entertaining. She said staff have created materials that provide valuable information in a way that keeps the workshop moving. CityTV recently produced a “how to run for office” video that is incorporated into the hour-long presentation.

“Will answer questions, we provide information but we will lighten it up,” she said.

The Clerk’s office maintains a website, www.smvote.org, that provides election related information including a brochure on how to run for office. The information outlines qualifications for candidates, timelines and provides links to additional resources.

The City Clerk’s office is located at City Hall, 1685 Main Street, Room 102.

Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...