To responsibly participate in democracy, you must do your research. This year, the Daily Press staff has published over 22 hours of long-form discussions with all of the legitimate candidates through our podcast. We asked the tough questions, challenged non-answers, and eventually formed opinions on who should be leading our City moving forward.

There are 21 candidates running for City Council and while it seems overwhelming, almost half have a fatal flaw that disqualifies them from legitimate consideration. In some cases, these candidates have refused to provide information about their views and declined to participate in any campaign activities. These candidates do not deserve your vote. Other candidates have campaigned but lack the basic ability to function on the dais.

CITY COUNCIL 4-year term (Vote for 4)

These candidates absolutely deserve your vote.

Ted Winterer (Incumbent)
Christine Parra

We think Councilman Ted Winterer and challenger Christine Parra are clearly the best two individuals in the race, and deserve your vote.
Ted Winterer doesn’t pretend the city is a utopia nor is he attempting to scare voters with Trumpian fearmongering. His steady approach and practical ideas are critically important as the city faces its near and long term challenges.

Christine Parra has been inspired to run out of frustration with the establishment but she isn’t running with the toxicity and hyperbole of other candidates. While she’s a political novice, her professional experience makes her uniquely qualified to address many of the city’s pressing issues and she has demonstrated a clear understanding of the complexity of running this city.

Voters have a choose-your-own-adventure path for the remaining two slots, depending on your politics and whether you believe the City of Santa Monica is just dandy, needs work or is in a state of crisis.

These candidates might deserve your vote, and would meaning fully contribute to the leadership of the city.

Terry O’Day (Incumbent)
Tom Ciszek
Phil Brock
Gleam Davis (Incumbent)
Mario Fonda-Bonardi
Chip Martin
Oscar de la Torre

Terry O’Day (incumbent) understands that the economic engine of the city needs a tune-up and he wants to work with businesses to bring back that vitality. He also has a strong background converting support for green causes into actual environmentally friendly policies. If you are happy with the current state of the city, he is running for his 4th full term.

Tom Ciszek Santa Monica’s tech industry is massively important to the city and few of the other candidates have even a cursory understanding of the topic. Tom’s experience in this field is unrivaled and important. His voice would bring an important missing perspective.

Phil Brock. Part of being an effective Councilmember is having a deep understanding of the community. Phil has put in the work. Parks Commissioner, Kiwanis Lieutenant-Governor, Samohi Alumni president, and much more,
Phil has deep roots here. A self-admitted “argumentative” and “acquired taste” guy, he may be just what the Council needs.

Gleam Davis (incumbent) has decades of experience in civic activity and there’s no question she can lead the city. Her campaign this year has at times come across as tone deaf in
the current moment and that’s going to cost her votes. If you’re generally happy with the state of the city, you can confidently vote for her again.

Mario Fonda-Bonardi comes from the historically council-feeding path of the Planning Commission. This is the commission that recommends how much we build out our city. He has clearly articulated politics, and is a political new-comer.

Chip Martin lives downtown and has firsthand experience with the city’s evolution in recent years. That experience brings a balanced perspective that is interesting as he sees good and bad in the current direction. He is a self-proclaimed moderate.

Oscar de la Torre is a long time school board member and founder of the Pico Youth & Family Center. He’s a polarizing candidate and simply put, he has a lot of enemies in the city. That said, he’s the only person with a detailed proposal to reform public safety in a deep and meaningful way.

These candidates have not earned your vote.

Ana Jara (Incumbent)
Todd Mentch
Anne-Marie Slack
Merv Andika
Marcus Owens
Andrew Kamm
John Jewell
Nathaniel Jone
Jon Mann
Zoe Muntaner

Ana Jara (Incumbent) We appreciate her service to the city but she is simply less able to lead the city than the other candidates. We don’t think she would have won had she campaigned for the seat instead of being appointed and her attempts to articulate her vision for the city or solutions to problems have fallen flat.

Andrew Kamm looks like a qualified future candidate, but didn’t participate in much pre-election activities. He stands on a good platform to run, we wish we would have
seen more of him.

Todd Mentch is also a great future candidate, but not enough community involvement and needs to get clear on jurisdictional issues.

Anne-Marie Slack has great ideas but no clear evidence that she has an understanding of what the Council does.

Merv Andika, John Jewell, Nathaniel Jone and Marcus Owens didn’t mount much of a campaign, if at all.

Jon Mann runs every time, loses every time. We think it could be a weird type of protest.

Zoë Munanter ran 4 years ago, leaving a trail of bounced checks in her wake. Hard no.

CITY COUNCIL 2 Year Term (Vote for 1)

Already a done deal.

Kristin McCowan hit the political jackpot. Appointed only 3 months ago to Greg Morena’s vacated seat, despite loud opposition from the community to wait for the election, she now finds herself running unopposed. While we like her as a Councilmember, we have a fundamental belief that no elected official should run unopposed, particularly when there are 21 candidates running for the other (4 year) City Council term.