With primary voting concluded, attention is now turning to the November general election and in Santa Monica this means City Council election season.
This year there are three Council seats up for election, one of which is confirmed as an open seat as Mayor Sue Himmelrich will not be running for a third term on Council.
“When I first ran I said I would serve for eight years,” said Himmelrich. “I did this and I think I stepped up and it’s been a fascinating experience. A lot of it I’ve enjoyed, a lot of it I haven’t, but I think I’ve made a difference and that was what I wanted to do.”
In addition, the seats of Councilmembers Lana Negrete and Kristin McCowan are up for election. Negrete, who was appointed in June 2021 following Kevin McKeown’s resignation, has announced that she will be running for election.
“I am eager to continue the work I’ve started these last few months that I’ve had the privilege to serve on Council,” said Negrete. “Safe and clean streets, intense focus on our homeless crisis and rebuilding our economy with small business is my mission as a Councilmember and the heart of my campaign,” said Negrete. “I know our city, I believe in everything we can be. I was born and raised in Santa Monica and understand the great challenges ahead.”
McCowan has confirmed that she is running in November. McCowan was also appointed to Council and filled the vacancy created by Greg Morena’s resignation in June 2020. She ran unopposed in November 2020 to complete the last two years of Morena’s four year term.
So far two new candidates have come forward seeking a spot on Council: Planning Commissioner Ellis Raskin and Rent Control Commissioner Caroline Torosis.
Raskin was the first to jump in the race, declaring his candidacy in March. Raskin is an environmental attorney who moved to Santa Monica in 2015. He was appointed to the Urban Forest Task Force in 2017 and to the Planning Commission in 2020.
“I am running because Santa Monica needs strong, independent leaders who will use common-sense strategies to address the challenges we face as a community,” said Raskin, later adding, “unless someone unexpected enters the race, my expertise in land use, urban planning, and housing law will make me a uniquely qualified candidate.”
Torosis intends on kicking off her campaign by declaring her candidacy at an event at Mayor Himmelrich’s house on Sunday. Torosis is an attorney and currently works in the office of County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell as Senior Deputy for Economic and Workforce Development.
“I’m running for City Council first and foremost because my entire career is in public service and I have a really deep commitment to local government because that’s where I think that we can make the biggest impact on people’s daily lives,” said Torosis. “I think that I can bring my decades of leadership at both the state and local level to bear as I potentially serve on the Council. I think I’m a unifying voice and someone who can work with all parties on the Council.”
During this event Himmelrich plans on formally endorsing Torosis for Council.
“I’ve always supported her [Torosis], I gave her her first event ever when she ran for Rent Board,” said Himmelrich. “I think that she has been, as a Rent Control Board Commissioner, sensitive to the needs of the people who live here… so she already is halfway there with respect to some of the issues we have in the city by being a leader on that board for the past eight years.
In November there will also be four SMMUSD School Board seats, three Rent Control Board seats and four College Board seats up for election. Rent Control Commissioner Nicole Phillis announced in May that she was resigning from the Board and asked that her seat be filled by voters’ choice in the November election and not by a Board appointment prior to then.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect confirmation from Kristin McCowan regarding her intent to run in November.