Election Day: Locals will find ballots in their mailboxes in the coming weeks. Courtesy photo

As our cycling (with entourage/bodyguards) SM neighbor Ah-nold once famously declared,

I’M BACK!

In early October, as promised, with my CURIOUS CITY (since 2012) column. I took a break a few weeks ago, to have the time for an important project that kept getting pushed back. Did I do that? Of course not. The universe has a sense of humor, so I had dental surgery, then my wife got COVID, then I got it, then I got it again, then she got it again, then a terrible cyber attack (three, actually) that very nearly wiped out our family’s life savings and took up most of six weeks to defend against, then we took off for a 10-day, six-state road trip. But –

THERE’S AN ELECTION COMING UP!

– you should be getting your ballots in the mail in about a week – and it’s a very important one, for our nation, state, and certainly for Santa Monica, so you absolutely should vote, and possibly you might want to hear my two cents.

I must emphasize, it is MY two cents. Not those of the Daily Press. They are kind (and foolish) enough to give me this column, but I suspect management disagrees with what I opine much of the time. They, therefore, honor a long tradition in journalism, of publishing all opinions, even from scallywags. 

Why listen to my dos centavos? I’ve been fascinated with and following politics since I was a kid, SM politics for about 15 years. (And I still don’t get it, or know everything, but no one else does either.) I attend as many meetings as I can take, read accounts of those meetings and talk to all sorts of people. Sure, I’m mostly in my own bubble there but among them I try to ask the tough questions. You might not always get the truth but what you do get tells you a lot.

LET’S GET THE EASY STUFF

Out of the way first. Nationally and statewide, just vote for the Democrat. Even though I can’t stand a lot of them. Most are spineless and corrupt and have no clue how to win an election, but as a whole, the Democratic Party does seem to care about ordinary people more than the wealthy and powerful. 

A little simplification and perspective: democracy says the people vote and that’s it; fascism says we want our ideas, our way, and will rule by whatever means necessary. Screw the vote. 

If you look at the evidence, the facts, that’s what the Republican Party is fast becoming. So unless a GOP candidate denounces all that – not bloody likely – make it easy, just vote D. Until the GOP comes to its senses, and I don’t see that happening soon – just vote D.  

THERE IS THE OCCASIONAL EXCEPTION

In a place like CA and especially Santa Monica, where you have to search a bit to even find a Republican, sometimes a race is Dem vs Dem. Like for LA County Sheriff. I don’t know a lot about former Long Beach Chief Robert Luna, but here’s all I need to know: he’s not Alex Villanueva, the current sheriff running for reelection, who has proven himself time after time to be the worst possible sheriff since Joe Arpaio in AZ. 

Just google “Alex Villanueva scandals” and prepare for a long read. From the beginning he has lied to cover up deputy violence, ignored subpoenas, used his power to go after a reporter and a County Supervisor, denied that violent gangs of deputies even exist, and last year 55 people died in his custody. It doesn’t matter what you think he did at the Venice Beach encampments (he didn’t help), this swaggering Trump wannabe has got to go.

WHAT ABOUT SANTA MONICA?

I’m getting there. As I said, more specifics in the next column, but for now here’s how those two cents land.

CITY COUNCIL – Do you love the 500+ units coming in at Lincoln and Ocean Park? How about the hundreds more that will top the old Von’s at Broadway and Lincoln? And so much more in the pipeline. If you do, there are plenty of Forward-thinking candidates who will please you. If not, you’d better go with a slate that has promised to put residents’ needs first. That would be Lana Negrete, Armen Melkonians, and (just added) Albin Gielicz.

It takes a long time to turn a big ship around, especially if you’ve never had your hands on the complicated and mostly unmarked controls. But the slate of residents-first candidates elected last time (Parra, de la Torre, Brock), in an unprecedented breaking of the decades-long stranglehold on City Council power by SMRR, made a big difference but often fell short. You still had a 3 – 4 minority. The appointment of Lana Negrete to fill an open seat helped a lot, as she voted with the slate most of the time. She should be reelected. Along with fellow new slate members Armen Melkonians (LV, Residocracy) and new guy Albin Gielicz. Next column I will tell you who I definitely will not vote for, and why.

SCHOOL BOARD – Very important to turn out the reigning power brokers, for oh so many reasons, and plug in a slate of concerned parents (ABF, A Brighter Future PAC – I know, lame name, but it’s their platform that counts) who want to put students, teachers and curriculum above new buildings. And the special interests who love them. The slate is Angela DiGaetano, Esther Hickman, Stacy Rouse, Miles Warner.    

SMC – We have a love-hate relationship with our mighty, famous community college. They’ve done a lot of good… and a heap of bad. I trust Sion Roy but would not vote for any other incumbent there. They want us to give them another $375M in an upcoming bond. This is definitely the time to say NO to school bonds like this.

I know, there’s a lot left out, but if I last that long you might see it in the next CURIOUS CITY (two Wednesdays hence). In the meantime, take your mind off nasty politics, go see an opera, Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor,” fantastic all around, last chance Sunday afternoon. Unruly crowds, screaming, freedoms taken way, marriage, madness, murder – wait, that sounds just like local politics, but with a better soundtrack.

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 36 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at  therealmrmusic@gmail.com