Overview:

New Mayor Gleam Davis joined other councilmembers in bidding farewell to Councilwomen Sue Himmelrich and Kristin McCowan.

Sue Himmelrich and Kristin McCowan both declined to run for reelection this year and the two women received a fond farewell at the Dec. 6 council meeting, including from new Mayor Gleam Davis.

“When you decide that you want to enter public service, you understand that it’s not easy, you understand that you will not be universally loved,” said now Mayor Gleam Davis. “But you also understand that you have a chance to make a difference. And I think it can be said unequivocally and without any reservation that both Mayor Himmelrich and Mayor Pro Tem McCowan have made a difference for the better in this community. We are so lucky to have two wonderful and I want to point out female leaders here.”

Davis, who was selected as mayor later in the night, said the role of the council is to preserve what is special about the city.

“And I think what is also true is that we as a city continually face challenges,” she said. “Our motto is ‘happy people in a happy place.’ Sadly, we cannot always make everyone happy. But we can always strive to be a happy place. And I think that’s incumbent not just on our elected leaders but everyone who considers themselves part of this community, whether you live here or work here, or hopefully even if you come to visit, you find some joy, some peace, some enthusiasm, some renovation and rejuvenation in Santa Monica. It is truly a special place.”

The councilmembers who who served with the two women lauded their commitments and community spirit.

“I just want to say thank you both,” said Councilman Oscar de la Torre. “First, Mayor Sue Himmelrich, it’s been a pleasure and an honor to work with you on the dias and as a council member but even before that, the commitment that you have, to supporting affordable housing, those that are most marginalized in our community, I think is something that we totally agree on and it’s been a pleasure to work with you on that.”

Councilman Phil Brock said he had known Councilwoman’s McCowan’s family for 55 years.

“It’s really been a pleasure. And I thank you for your service. I thank you for your commitment to our city, your commitment to our school system and your commitment to trying to make me a better person,” he said.

Councilwoman Lana Negrete referenced her shared history with McCowan as graduates of Santa Monica High School.

“For those of us up here that you know were born and raised here went to school here. It’s not easy sometimes being the youngest person up here, right. There’s a lot of people’s historical knowledge but I just want to thank you because it was great to watch you and great to learn from you and you’re an amazing leader,” she said.

Councilwoman Christine Parra thanked Himmelrich for her work on specific issues in her neighborhood and broadly for welcoming Parra to the council.

“And so I want to thank you for those moments of mentorship because without them, you know there has been growth there wouldn’t have been connections, and there wouldn’t have been opportunities,” she said.

In announcing her departure prior to the election, McCowan said she wanted to spend more time with her family, particularly her young children.

“I don’t know if it’s harder to leave by choice. I’m not sure. It is really emotional but my family is by far the most important thing to me. And my dad wasn’t able to be here because he’s not doing so well right now. But my mom’s here and I want to thank you for 42 and a half years of love and support and then you know nine and a half months I was in your stomach and just always being my biggest champion and this is your first time here in person. So thank you for coming,” she said.

Himmelrich was at the forefront of efforts to establish term limits for City Council and while the rules would have allowed her to serve another term, she chose not to run after finishing two full terms. She also thanked her family, specifically her husband for his support and referenced the coalition of residents that have backed her for the past eight years.

“My special thanks are to all of the people of Santa Monica, who have really supported me through the good times and the bad times,” she said. “Through all of these various campaigns we’ve done and to just push forward some of the initiatives that I thought were important and you agreed with me, and I was so happy to see in the end that you did agree with me so thank you for that.”

Sidebar:

Gleam Davis was selected Mayor after three quick rounds of voting this week.

Councilwoman Christine Parra made an initial motion at the start of the process to select Brock as Mayor for the next year, de la Torre as mayor for 2024 and have Lana Negrete serve as Mayor Pro Tem for both years.

However, that motion never received a vote as newly elected Councilwoman Caroline Torosis made a substitute motion for Gleam Davis to serve as Mayor and Negrete to serve as Mayor and Pro Tem in year one and have the two switch roles in the second year. That motion failed with Brock, de la Torre, Parra and Negrete voting against it.

Torosis then made a second substitution with Davis and Negrete in the Mayor/Pro Tem roles for the first year and Negrete/Brock in the roles for the second year. That motion failed along the same voting lines.

In a third substitute motion, Torosis pitched the winning combination with Davis as Mayor for the next year, Brock as Mayor in 2024 and Negrete serving as Pro Tem for both years. Davis, Negrete, Torosis and Jesse Zwick supported the final configuration with Brock, de la Torre and Parra voting against.

Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...