Kristin McCowan, a native Santa Monican, has been appointed to the City Council for four months to fill the vacancy created when Greg Morena resigned last month.

McCowan is the only Black woman on the council and her appointment gives women a 4 – 3 majority on the council for the first time in the city’s history.

Morena resigned in June due to concerns over his family business. Morena’s family operates the Albright restaurant on the Santa Monica Pier and he said at the time the business was in jeopardy unless he was able to secure a new lease. As his landlord is a division of the City, negotiations would have been a conflict of interest so he stepped down.

The seat will be up for election in November as part of the general election and the council voted to appoint someone to temporarily fill the seat for the next four months.

Some residents had argued that the seat should be left vacant through the election and of the six individuals who spoke during the council meeting, three advocated for leaving the seat vacant while three advocated to appoint McCowan.

Dalton Smith said he was part of Santa Monicans for Democracy and argued against making an appointment.

“I wanted to call and ask the council not to appoint somebody to the vacancy with less than four months till the general election,” he said. “I think it would be unfair and anti democratic to hand select somebody and give them incumbent status going into the general election. We need more democracy in the city of Santa Monica not less democracy. I know most of you if not all of you believe that too.”

Morena called to back McCowan as his replacement.

“Half of the city’s electorate is under 45 years old and it’s essential that our voice is heard and represented on the dais,” he said.

In her application, McCowan said she was a second-generation Santa Monican who participated in the St. Monica community during her childhood as well as work with the YMCA. “

“Since returning to Santa Monica permanently in October 2019, I immediately began exploring how I could reengage in the community,” she wrote in her application. “I was appointed to the Pier Corporation Board and I’ve reconnected with the Black community and am active in guiding the work of the Black Agenda. This includes creating the outlines for a new nonprofit that seeks to uplift Black lives throughout our community. This work has been incredibly important to me as I’m able to offer a homegrown perspective with 40 years of lived experience as a Black child and then woman in Santa Monica. Due to my strong personal relationships with Santa Monica community activists, elected officials and residents, my direct and indirect engagement in this community has never waned—even when I was away for 13 years.”

She has degrees from from Samohi, SMC and CSU Northridge and USC. McCowan worked for the US House of Representatives and as a Obama appointee to the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), for Obama’s transition team and later for Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti.

In her application McCowan said her goals included representing her generation in civic life, working on the city’s economic recovery, restoring community confidence in public safety and increasing opportunities for historically disenfranchised communities.

“Santa Monica is a relatively progressive community that has developed mostly responsibly over the past several decades and mostly with a thoughtful lens toward diversity and inclusion,” shw wrote. “However, we have significant work to do to make the dream of a safe, affordable community with great businesses and attractions, cultural diversity, jobs and green spaces accessible to more. That is what diversity truly is. We need people to want to come to Santa Monica to live, work and play in order to continue to grow thoughtfully and successfully as a community.”