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By Ashley Napier, Special to the Daily Press

City Council announced Lana Negrete as their newly appointed Councilmember Tuesday after two-time former Mayor and longtime City Councilmember Kevin McKeown abruptly retired in early June.

Mckeown, 72, announced his retirement in the May 25 City Council meeting, stating that he “had the privilege and honor of being able to be a service to this city which I deeply love” but that he “has decided to retire” effective June 11. Mckeown then left the Zoom meeting, leaving his fellow council members visibly stunned by his statement, followed by a shocked silence. The meeting was adjourned, but the City Council had to prepare to fill his vacancy. 

According to City Charter, section 603, the City Council must appoint someone to fill the vacancy within 30-days of the last appointment leaving. If that appointment were not made, the Council would cause a General Municipal Election to fill that vacancy in November to carry out the remainder of the term through November 2022. The election would cost an estimated $528,000 for the city, which is not currently included in the fiscal year 2021-2022 budget.

35-applicants applied for the coveted seat between June 3 and the 22, of which 33 were eligible to compete for the position, one not being a registered voter in Santa Monica and one, Nicole Phillis, withdrawing their application.  

The Council of six held a vote Tuesday night. It took the council four rounds of deliberation to come to the conclusion that Negrete was their choice, with the last two rounds deciding between Negrete and Caroline Torosis. 

As the council announced their vote to the crowd waiting outside, audible cheers of support for Negrete could be heard inside the chamber. Negrete entered the chambers and was immediately sworn in by the County Clerk. Councilmember Phil Brock noted that with Negrete’s nomination, “This council really reflects Santa Monica now.”