Santa Monica City Hall (File photo)

This Tuesday City Council will make a very important decision. Last month, after accepting the resignation of councilmember Greg Morena, the Council announced the process to fill that seat. After accepting applications, a majority of them would either appoint a person to fill the seat or allow the voters to choose them this November.

The fairest and most democratic solution is to await the election in a few months and let the residents of this City elect the person they feel is most qualified to sit on the dais, rather than select for them.

Selecting a councilmember for residents again would mean that a majority of current sitting councilmembers (four out of seven, Gleam Davis, Ana Jara, Terry O’Day and Council’s pending selection) were never initially elected by the voters. Yet once selected by the Council, their incumbency entitled them to all the monetary benefits for their re-election campaigns that developers and their “teams” courting influence bestow. Historically, virtually all incumbents, once seated, keep their seats for decades, overcoming new challengers. In the past 30 years, only 3 incumbents were ever voted out of office.

Such entrenched incumbency has made our electoral system less fair, less competitive, and less representative. When confronted with this cycle of money and influence and voters, by a huge margin – 74% – voted FOR term limits in the last election, less than two years ago.

Given this, we believe voters do NOT want Council to put its collective thumb on the scale with an election just around the corner. With over 100 candidates filing applications in a time of a pandemic where neither community groups or the council can adequately vet them, this is no time for political gamesmanship or behind the scenes maneuvering to get a person who will vote for one group’s agenda.

Please refrain from appointing another incumbent from the dais: Let the voters make their choice in November as to who they believe is the most qualified candidate. It will be here soon enough.

Mary Marlow, Chair

Santa Monica Transparency Project