Council Slate Goes on Offensive
By Olin Ericksen
August 10 -- A slate of three City Council candidates dropped the gauntlet on the steps of City Hall Tuesday, challenging Santa Monica's ruling party's record on key issues while leveling charges that the status quo only works for the city's renters.
Calling themselves the "Team for Change," local political columnist Bill Bauer, Pico neighborhood activist Kathryn Morea and former council candidate David Cole attacked Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights’ (SMRR) record on homelessness, property rights, traffic, development and a host of other issues.
The group’s positions were outlined during a press conference at City Hall and on the slate’s website, newcouncilsm.com, which states, "If elected we will end the wasteful political pork, cronyism and special interest giveaways."
In a swipe at SMRR's record, the website painted a bleak picture of a city where "vagrants and transients run amuck, traffic gridlocks, development proliferates, parking gets harder to find, city bureaucracy grows, schools beg for money and taxes are raised while (the City Council talks) about living wages, declawed cats, ever more low income apartment projects and suing banks over a dollar ATM fee."
Despite such statements, Cole, who is a senior care facilities executive director, said the candidates would not be running a negative campaign in their bid for three of four open seats in November.
"For roughly 26 years, Santa Monica has been dominated by one party,” Cole said, “but really it's not so much an 'us against them' type of campaign. We just feel elected officials should represent everyone, not just a select group of people," he said referring to renters.
However Cole -- who garnered 6,782 votes in a failed bid for the council four years ago -- was adamant that his group is not working against renters' interests.
"We are not working to repeal rent control,” Cole said. “Rent control is on the books, and it will continue to stay that way.
"We just believe that residents should come first, not just renters,” he said. “It's really not fair that only a portion of residents are represented in this city. That leaves out a large section of the city who are homeowners."
The “Team for Change” is, on the whole, more "fiscally conservative" than SMRR when it comes to using the City's tax money and would not be "trying to engineer society as much as the current party," Cole said.
To fund their run for the hotly contested seats, the slate is looking to raise nearly $100,000 per candidate to invest in direct mailers, lawn signs, door-to-door campaigning and "an email campaign the likes of which has never been seen before," Cole said.
The group's core of supporters, which numbers about 300, successfully urged several potential SMRR challengers to withdraw and support the slate instead, Cole said.
Cole is hopeful SMRR’s days in power are numbered."You know Santa Monica is not unlike the Soviet Union, which was dominated by one party too, and that system eventually cracked," the candidate said.
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