Santa Monica City Hall (File photo)

Individuals seeking a temporary appointment to the Santa Monica City council have until July 7 to submit their applications.

Councilman Greg Morena resigned from the council at the June 23 meeting to focus on his family business. Morena’s family owns the Albright restaurant on the city-owned pier and Morena said he needed to renegotiate his lease or face closure of the restaurant. As the City is the restaurant’s landlord, he said the conflict of interest forced him to step down from his seat.

Council chose to solicit applications to appoint a resident to the six-month vacancy. Per the city charter, an appointed councilmember can only serve through the next general election which occurs this November and whoever wins the seat at that time would be seated by the end of the year.

Santa Monica’s election system is currently under judicial review and the city could be forced to switch from at-large elections to a district based system. That ruling will not impact the appointment for this seat but it will determine when and how the election for the full-time replacement will occur.

Councilwoman Sue Himmelrich asked for the position to be left vacant until the November election.

“I believe that the democratic process is important to honor and our first go to place should be in a situation like this to go to an election when there’s so little time between the vacancy and the election,” she said.

Her motion failed to gain traction with several councilmembers who said the position is up for election in November and that the appointment is temporary through that time.

Councilwoman Gleam Davis attempted to extend the application time through July 10. She had asked for the expanded timeline in anticipation of a ruling from the court of appeals regarding districting but after discussion about the way the court ruling will impact the election and the burden a longer application period will place on staff, she abandoned the plan.

Council did add language to their decision from Mayor Kevin McKeown that requires the appointment to be made from the individuals who have submitted written applications by the deadline. He said that allowing candidates to apply last minute deprived the public of the opportunity to research their backgrounds.

“I personally am going to insist that we agree that nobody can be appointed who has not filed a written application by the deadline,” he said. “Because otherwise you open yourself up to the last minute Dark Horse candidate who somehow gets in and hasn’t been vetted by the public which I think would be very bad for democracy.”

Interested applicants may submit applications at smgov.net/councilappoint. Applicants must be residents and registered voters of the City of Santa Monica and cannot be employed by the City. This position is subject to the State Political Reform Act requiring disclosure of conflict of interests, and the City’s Taxpayer Protection Act (Oaks Initiative).

editor@smdp.com