City: Mayor Himmelrich played a video of protesters at her home. Courtesy image

Speaking during the annual event, Mayor Sue Himmelrich called the issue the “elephant in every room.”

Santa Monica Mayor Sue Himmelrich’s remarks during this year’s State of the City address on Tuesday took an uncharacteristically candid turn as the Mayor described “cancel culture” and personal attacks she has suffered over the past year.

In her comments, Himmelrich said she was concerned that the current political climate would deter qualified candidates from entering the political arena out of fear of abuse.

Following close to 15 minutes describing local issues such as the City’s staff turnover, commitment to social justice and affordable housing, and ongoing work to combat the effects of COVID-19, Himmelrich said there was one further topic to touch on: the shift in political discourse toward personal attacks on elected officials.

“I would be remiss if I did not speak about the elephant in every room and that is the aggressive hostility we witness every day on television, on our streets, in our schools and in our government chambers,” Himmelrich began. The Mayor went on to describe the protesters who showed up to her home during the Tuesday, Jan. 11, City Council meeting. At the time, Himmelrich and other council members had proposed a potential vaccine mandate for dining indoors at local restaurants.

“These protesters came to my door and demanded of my husband that I leave a city council meeting to speak to them because they were more important,” Himmelrich described before playing a video clip captured by her doorbell camera of a group of protesters gathered on her front porch.

The protesters, wielding a bullhorn, accused her of perpetrating a “massive genocide.” Himmelrich reported they also called her “Mayor Himmler,” in reference to the prominent Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler, whom Encyclopedia Britannica describes as the “prime architect of the Holocaust.”

Citing recent remarks by Pope Francis (who opined during a “State of the World” sermon last month), Himmelrich said she had been the victim of “cancel culture.”

“Cancel culture flies in the face of working toward the common good, both politically and personally, because it forces us into echo chambers, where we hear only those who agree with us,” Himmelrich said. “We know that cancel culture has a deterrent effect on political discourse and leadership.”

The Mayor said she was first targeted by “ugly hit pieces” during her first council campaign in 2014.

“Their campaign failed, but this personal attack approach to politics deters many whose goal it is to promote the common good from choosing to run for office and from subjecting themselves to this kind of abuse,” Himmelrich said.

The Mayor did not reply to a request for confirmation that she intended to run for a third and final City Council term; her statements at the State of the City did not indicate whether or not she had committed to running for a third term.

Later in the program, Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Laurel Rosen said she supported Himmelrich’s “courage and candor.” The Santa Monica Chamber co-sponsored the event with the City of Santa Monica.

Rosen praised the Mayor for issuing a “call to action that we work together to create change in these areas.”

emily@smdp.com