The clock is counting down to the start of the election race that will have the biggest impact on the daily lives of Santa Monica voters.
On June 18, candidates vying for three City Council seats will be able to pull papers to formally enter the race. At this time candidates will also be able to pull papers for the four seats up for election on the Santa Monica-Malibu School District Board and four seats on the Santa Monica College Board.
This year’s City Council election will be particularly consequential to the future policy orientation of the City.
Currently, there is no dominant policy platform shared among City Councilmembers. The shakeup to what had for several years been an ideologically aligned Council, began in the last election cycle where three incumbents were unseated by challengers running on a united slate.
The self-titled “change slate” members of City Council include Oscar de la Torre, Christine Parra and Phil Brock. The slate swept into power on an anti-incumbency wave following widespread dissatisfaction with the City’s response to the May 31 riots and on a platform of controlled development.
In Council meetings the change slate voting block is often in opposition to Councilmembers Kristin McCowan, Sue Himmelrich and Gleam Davis. These Councilmembers are not part of a slate, but represent a more traditional branch of Santa Monica progressivism and share a common focus on affordable housing development.
Councilmember Lana Negrete is not aligned with either ideological camp.
With four votes required to form a Council majority, neither group has established a dominant direction for Council’s policies. This balance may shift as a result of the November election, which would have strong impacts on Council’s approach to public safety, housing growth and commercial development.
The seats of Himmelrich, McCowan and Negrete are up for election. Himmelrich has announced that she will not be running for a third term, while Negrete and McCowan, who were both initially appointed to Council, will both be running in their first competitive election race. The field of candidates will become clear after the filing period closes on August 12.
A candidate workshop will be held at 10 a.m. on July 18 for interested candidates to learn about the nomination process and pick-up their forms. Candidates must be a registered voter in the City of Santa Monica, a US citizen and collect 100 signatures from registered Santa Monica voters in order to qualify for the ballot.
Several candidates have already announced their candidacy and begun their campaigns.
Environmental attorney and member of the Planning Commission Ellis Raskin was the first to do so back in March. Raskin identifies as an independent progressive candidate with focus on housing development and sustainability.
Consumer protection attorney and member of the Rent Control Board Caroline Torosis tossed her hat in the ring on June 10 with an event at Himmerich’s house during which Himmelrich formally endorsed her campaign. Torosis currently works in the office of County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell as Senior Deputy for Economic and Workforce Development. She has a strong passion for protecting tenants and producing more affordable housing.
Other early stage candidates are Jesse Zwick and Troy Harris.
Harris is an International Account Manager for UPS, the author of a semi-autobiographical self help book, and host of a motivational podcast. On his campaign website, Harris says he speaks “on behalf of Santa Monicans with modest income who want change.” His platform includes enacting a commercial vacancy tax, building more multifamily housing, and funding police and public service officers.
Zwick is a public policy and communication advisor and the former Director of Communications for City of Los Angeles Councilwoman Nithya Raman. He is a progressive candidate with a central focus on building more affordable housing and protecting tenants. According to his campaign website he believes the root cause of Santa Monica’s high levels of homelessness, traffic emissions, and housing segregation is “our obscenely high cost of housing.”
More information on the November Election and how to run for office in Santa Monica can be found at santamonica.gov/topic-explainers/elections.