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It is an election year in Santa Monica and voters will elect 14 people to the different entities that govern the city in 2018.

This year’s elections include four seats on School Board (Oscar de la Torre, Craig Foster, Laurie Lieberman and Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein), three on City Council (Kevin McKeown, Pam O’Connor and Sue Himmelrich), three on the Rent Control Board (Nicole Phillis, Steve Duron and Todd Flora) and four for the Santa Monica College Board (Nancy Greenstein, Louise Jaffe, Barry A. Snell and Andrew Walzer). Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, whose district covers Santa Monica, will also be up for reelection.

The nomination period this year will be July 16 through August 10 with a possible five-day extension for each race if an incumbent does not file. The nomination period requires candidates to fill out the required paperwork and gather signatures.

City Hall has begun exploring a potential ballot measure that would require a supermajority to approve some developments. The council has the ability to draft a measure and add it to the ballot over the next six months. However, time is running out for potential ballot measures proposed by outside organizations.

According to the City Clerk’s office, the timeline for qualifying a ballot measure is not yet impossible, but it is extremely tight. If proponents of a ballot measure were to begin soon and take the full time allotment to gather signatures (180 days), the verification, approval and scheduling process could preclude qualifying the measure in time for this year’s vote. The entire process must conclude by the first week of August to qualify for the November 2018 election.

While an ongoing lawsuit is attempting to force the City to move from at-large to district based elections, officials said it would be difficult to implement districts for this year given the schedule for the lawsuit. The lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial on July 30 and the City Clerk’s office said that even with a speedy resolution, the case is unlikely be resolved with enough time to establish districts before this year’s election.

Of the potential incumbents up for election this year, several said they had already made a decision on their plans.

Councilwoman Pam O’Connor said she is evaluating her options and has yet to decide if she will run for reelection but Councilman McKeown confirmed he plans to run again.

“Not only are there ongoing issues where I hope to make further progress, including protecting renters and housing affordability, but I’ve just been appointed Santa Monica’s Director on the board of the County-wide effort to bring cheaper, cleaner electricity to Santa Monica, and I look forward to championing a ballot measure in November to assure stable, sane development policy,” he said. “With all that to look forward to, yes, I’ll be asking voters to re-elect me.”

Rent Control Board Commissioner Flora said he will explore appointments and volunteer opportunities at the State or County level when his term expires this year.

School Board member Craig Foster, the only representative from the City of Malibu, said he will seek reelection this year as did Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein

“It’s an incredible honor to work with, and for, our community as together we strive to always improve educational opportunities and outcomes for the students in Santa Monica and Malibu,” said Tahvildaran-Jesswein.

Jaffe said she was “almost certainly” going to run for the SMC Board again.

At the State and national level, experts are predicting a surge in women running for office fueled largely by frustration on the Democratic side over the election of President Donald Trump and energized by Democratic women winning races in Virginia in November. Experts say 2018 is on track to be a historic year, with more women saying they are running at this point than ever before.

Although women are more than half the American population, they account for just a fifth of all U.S. representatives and senators, and one in four state lawmakers. They serve as governors of only six states and mayors in roughly 20 percent of the nation’s most populous cities.

The last time the U.S. saw a surge in women running for office was 1992, in the wake of Anita Hill’s testimony before an all-male U.S. Senate committee weighing the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court. It was called the “Year of the Woman” because women were elected to the U.S. House and Senate in record numbers.


Associated Press writer CHRISTINA A. CASSIDY contributed to this report.

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...