Pam O’Connor lost her bid for a seventh term on the City Council last night becoming just the third incumbent in the City’s history to be voted out of office. However, a possible appointment could reinstate her for two years.
Voters chose businessman Greg Morena who was making his first run for elected office along side incumbents Sue Himmelrich and Kevin McKeown.
O’Connor relied on her more than 20 years of experience for her reelection campaign. She didn’t receive some of the endorsements traditionally necessary to secure victory in Santa Monica, she was out spent by most of her opponents and she ran a campaign that seemed based on riding the power of incumbency back to the council dais.
She has been credited with helping to bring the Expo Line to Santa Monica but O’Connor has been increasingly at odds with some sections of the city over her perceived support for development. This was the first election to be held since she was involved in a scandal at City Hall over the improper firing of a newly hired employee. The city was sued over the case and ultimately hired a consultant who recommended several changes to the city’s internal policies to prevent future problems. However, it’s possible she could be back on council if an appointment is required to fill a vacancy.
Councilman Tony Vazquez won his race for the State Board of Equalization and city officials have said he will have to vacate the the remaining two years of his council term because state law prohibits individuals from holding two offices if they overlap or would conflict with each other. Vazquez has asked for an official ruling on the situation and the Santa Monica City Attorney’s office is currently pursuing such a determination from the State Attorney General’s office.
If Vazquez is forced to leave the Council, his seat would become vacant in January of 2019 and the council at that time would have the ability to appoint someone to the remainder of his term or conduct a special election. A similar situation occurred in 1999 when then Councilwoman Asha Greenberg moved out of the city. At that time, Council held a special election that resulted in Richard Bloom joining the dais. However, there have been two appointments in recent memory. Current Councilmembers Gleam Davis and Terry O’Day were both appointed when their predecessors died in office.
Seven individuals were running for the three open seats on Council and the final results were similar to those posted early in the evening when absentee ballots were first released. The final standing is: Sue Himmelrich 15,474 votes (23.85%), Greg Morena 12,917 votes (19.91%), Kevin McKeown 12,559 votes, (19.36%), Pam O’Connor 7,385 votes (11.38%), Ashley Powell 6,534 votes (10.07%), Scott Bellomo 5,596 votes (8.63%) and Geoffrey Neri 4,412 votes (6.8%).
Voters also approved all four local ballot measures on Nov. 6.
Measure SM passed with a 71% “yes” vote, Measure TL passed with 73.6 % of the vote, Measure RR had 77.6 % and SMS had 70%.
At the Rent Control Board, newcomer Naomi Sultan was in first place with 14,178 votes (26.50%). Incumbent Nicole Phillis was a close second with 13,884 votes (25.95%) and Incumbent Steve Duron took the remaining seat with 12,029 votes (22.48%). Lori Brown received 9,695 votes (18.12%) and Jon Mann had 3,723 votes (6.96%). Two incumbents were running for three open seats.
Three incumbents were running for four open seats on the SMC Board.
Louise Jaffe had 17,794 votes (23.95%), Nancy Greenstein had 17,653 votes (23.76%), Sion Roy had 16,850 votes (22.68%) Barry Snell had 14,600 votes (19.65%). Roy joins the three incumbents after running for a seat in 2016 and years of participation with the local Democratic Club. Patrick Acosta II was fourth with 7,389 votes (9.95%)
All four incumbents were returned to the School Board.
Laurie Lieberman had 18,911 votes (24.67%), Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein had 16,467 votes (21.48%), Oscar de la Torre had 16,165 votes (21.08%) and Craig Foster had 14,985 votes (19.54%). Challenger Ann Maggio Thanawalla received 10,142 votes (13.23%).