Santa Monica Lookout
|School Board Member to Seek Santa Monica Council Seat||
By Jorge Casuso
July 31, 2016 -- School Board member Oscar de la Torre pulled nomination papers for City Council Friday, saying that he is running as an independent who will "hit the reset button on development" and fight gentrification in the Pico Neighborhood.
De la Torre, who is serving his 14th year on the School Board, is one of 15 candidates -- including four incumbents -- who have pulled papers in the race for four open council seats.
He said he was inspired by presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and disappointed by the lack of candidates addressing gentrification of the neighborhood where he lives ("OPINION: Making History in Santa Monica," May 24, 2016 and "Mapping Shows Pico Neighborhood Ground Zero for Skyrocketing Evictions in Santa Monica," August 27, 2015).
"I thought long and hard and didn't see any candidate addressing the issue of gentrification," de la Torre told the Lookout Saturday. "And as the only elected official in the city that endorsed Bernie Sanders, I realized you can't be part of the political revolution if you stand on the sidelines."
De la Torre said he would not seek the endorsement of Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights (SMRR), the powerful political group that is holding its convention Sunday. SMRR endorsed de la Torre in his four bids for School Board.
"I'm running a grassroots campaign," he said. "I'm not seeking the endorsement of any establishment that currently controls our local government."
De la Torre said he disagrees with the positions on development taken by incumbents Gleam Davis and Terry O'Day, who won the group's endorsement in 2012 and plan to seek its backing Sunday.
"I have an issue with being grouped in a slate with Council members who have been endorsed in the past by SMRR who have betrayed our platform," he said.
Although he will run as a slow-growth candidate, de la Torre said he has not decided whether he will back the Land Use Voter Empowerment (LUVE) initiative, a measure on the November ballot that would require voter approval of most developments taller than 32 feet and major changes to City planning policies.
"I have not taken a position," de la Torre said, "but I understand that a true resident voice needs to exist in our City Council and that currently there is a disconnect between what the residents want and what the City Council does.
"It's really the City Council that caused the development of Residocracy and the LUVE initiative," he said, referring to the grassroots residents' group that sponsored the measure.
"We know that we have to hit the reset button on development in our community," de la Torre said. "I hope to restore public trust in our local government."
"We were looking forward to not being so involved in the election cycle," he said. "It was really a case of the heart beating the mind."
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