Santa Monica native and local business owner Greg Morena is the first challenger to declare his intent to run for City Council.
He joins incumbents Kevin McKeown and Sue Himmelrich who have both declared their intent to run in this year’s election. The third incumbent, Pam O’Connor has yet to decide if she will run again.
Morena has lived in Santa Monica for 35 years, lives on the same street he grew up on and is married to his former next-door neighbor. The couple currently own/operate The Albright restaurant on the Pier.
Prior to taking over the restaurant, Morena started his own financial management consulting company and worked for several fashion brands including Undefeated, The Hundreds and Bleach Group USA Holdings. He graduated from CSUN with a degree in Business Administration.
Morena said he plans to bring both his business acumen and local knowledge to the council.
“Being part of the community since I was a kid makes me want to leave the place better than we got it,” he said. “I want it to be a place where my kids can grow up and be proud of what we’ve handed off to them. Not only for my kids but for my friends and my community. I want it to be forward thinking, I want us to be innovative but I want us to be a place where our children can thrive.”
He describes his campaign as focused on establishing effective communication with residents, preserving the legacy of the local community, and guiding smart growth and economic development to build a better tomorrow.
For Morena, smart growth and economic development require understanding the impact decisions have on local communities while balancing the needs of businesses.
“I think part of the challenge is when you’re making decisions on businesses and making decisions that will affect the community is either not having enough perspective on that community or not having enough experience on the business that will be affected,” he said.
He said he has both real-world business experience and a first-hand knowledge of the city’s evolution. “In creating our retailers mix, identifying important structures or determining the best outcomes for the residents, I feel like I’ll have a pretty unique perspective,” he said.
Morena said he’s running as an extension of his existing involvement. He is currently a member of the City’s audit commission, Transit Management Board, Pier Lesse Board and the Chamber of Commerce Board. In addition he has work and family commitments.
“I have a pretty good purview into the city and how things work and I can be most effective when I’m on the council,” he said. “I’m not a career politician, I’m not someone that is retired and looking for something to do. I have two young kids and enough work to fill two weeks but this is a passion, this is my passion,my community is my passion.”
In addition to the three seats up for election on City Council, there are four seats on School Board, three on the Rent Control Board and four for the Santa Monica College Board. Councilwoman Himmelrich and local activist Mary Marlow are mounting a campaign to establish term limits for City Council. City Hall has also discussed the possibility of a ballot measure that would require a supermajority to approve some developments.
The nomination period for all candidates 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. Morena will launch his candidacy with an outreach effort to local organizations soon and a campaign website at www.gregmorena.com.