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Both the powerful hotel workers’ union Unite Here Local 11 and the Santa Monica Democratic Club have endorsed incumbents Sue Himmelrich and Kevin McKeown, and political newcomer Greg Morena for the City Council.

SMDC President Jon Katz told the Daily Press incumbent Pam O’Connor “just blew off the whole thing” and did not seek an endorsement, though she is running for reelection.

“The club is really fans of Sue Himmelrich and Kevin McKeown based on their tenure on the Council and they have been active with the club,” Katz said. “They come to all the meetings and we were really enthusiastically supportive of their reelection. We felt the opposite way about Pam O’Connor.”

Katz said democratic membership was impressed by local restaurant owner Greg Morena and chose to endorse him. Another political newcomer, Ashley Powell, sought an endorsement but did not receive one.

“It was pretty overwhelming for the three that got endorsed,” Katz said.

Unite Here spokesperson Danielle Wilson said McKeown and Himmelrich have demonstrated a commitment to local workers by “co-authoring one of the strongest living wage laws in the country.”

Wilson said they decided to endorse Morena after an extensive interview process where the businessman met with union members.

“I believe he will continue engaging with our membership and learning what our interests are,” Wilson said. Unite Here represents about 1,500 hotel works in Santa Monica and its volunteers are crucial to the local election ground game, often canvassing the city’s eight square miles for candidates.

The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor also endorsed the same slate of candidates.

The Santa Monica Police Officers’ Association and the Santa Monica Firefighters’ Local 1109 endorsed all three incumbents and Greg Morena. They also endorsed a “yes” vote for Measure SMS, the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District bond.

“We feel it is imperative to improve our school’s safety and security systems, as well as upgrading and repairing aging facilities so that our children have a safe place to thrive and develop into young, productive individuals,” the groups said in a statement.

SMDC endorsed Measure TL, the local initiative that would instate term limits on the Council. After a debate between local activist Mary Marlow and Mayor Pro-Tempore Gleam Davis over the measure, Katz said the membership was persuaded by the argument term limits would encourage turnover.

“It allows for new people to come in and more voices in the community can become part of the government,” Katz said, adding members were concerned about the “corrupting influence of power.”

For the Rent Control Board, the membership voted to endorse Nicole Phillis, Naomi Sultan and Steve Duron. The SMDC also endorsed Proposition 10, the measure that would allow municipalities to expand local rent control laws.

For Santa Monica College Board, the SMDC endorsed Louise Jaffe, Nancy Greenstein, Sion Roy and Barry Snell.

The SMDC recommended its members vote no on Proposition 6, the gas tax repeal, yes on Proposition 7, to establish permanent daylight savings time. On local measures, the group recommended voting “yes” on Measure SM, which would require a supermajority vote to amend local land use plans, “yes” on Measure RR, which would allow non-citizens to serve on boards and commissions, and “yes” for Measure SMS.

Kate Cagle

Senior reporter for the Santa Monica Daily Press

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