Santa Monica Lookout
Santa Monica Voters Tackle Big Ballot
By Jonathan Friedman
November 7, 2016 -- Voters in Santa Monica have many important decisions to make on Tuesday when they head to the polls. That is for those who haven't already made their decision via in-person early voting and absentee balloting.
Topping the local portion of the ballot is the contest for four City Council seats. Ten people are on the ballot and an 11th candidate is the lone write-in choice ("Santa Monica Ballot Set wiith 10 Council Candidates," August 22, 2016).
Among the contestants are four incumbents -- Gleam Davis, Terry O’Day, Ted Winterer and Tony Vazquez.
This has been an unusual campaign because the incumbents along with challenger and slow-growth leader Armen Melknonians are the only candidates who have reported raising any money, according to the most recent financial statements ("Winterer Leads in Santa Monica Council Campaign Fundraising," October 28, 2016).
The other challengers whose names will appear on the ballot are school board member Oscar de la Torre, Mende Smith, Jon Mann and Terence Later.
Arts Commissioner Phil Brock, who was a competitive candidate in the 2014 council race, is a write-in option ("Brock Launches Write-in Campaign for Santa Monica City Council," October 19, 2016).
(To learn more about the council candidates’ opinions on the issues, read their answers to The Lookout’s questionnaire)
Also on the ballot is a race for two seats on the Santa Monica Rent Control Board.
Incumbents Christopher Walton and Anastasia Foster have two challengers -- consumer rights attorney Caroline Torosis and Realtor Elaine Golden-Gealer.
The rent board contest has also been an unusual one (“Santa Monica Rent Board Campaign Includes Unusual Features,” November 4, 2016).
For the Santa Monica College board, there are four candidates competing for three seats.
The incumbents are Susan Aminoff, Margaret Quinones and Rob Rader. The challenger is medical doctor Sion Roy, who teaches a class at SMC. The incumbents did not have a contested election in 2012.
There is no election for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District board because only three candidates registered for the three-seat contest.
State Assemblyman Richard Bloom and U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu, whose districts include Santa Monica, face re-election. Political observers do not expect either man to struggle to victory.
There are also well-publicized elections for U.S president and California U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s successor.
Many, Many Measures
There are four local measures on the ballot, with the one getting the most attention being LV, a slow-growth proposal written by the activist group Residocracy that is also known as LUVE.
This proposal would make voter approval a requirement to finalize most construction projects exceeding 32 feet in height as well as various other developments and land-use policy documents ("" July 13, 2016).
While supporters say the measure would slow what they see as excessive development in Santa Monica, opponents say it would lead to various unintended consequences and accelerate the city's housing crisis.
Other proposals include the related Measures GS and GSH, which are a half-cent sales tax and a non-binding recommendation that the revenue go to schools and affordable housing ("Opponents Call Santa Monica Tax Measure "Growth Stimulating Hormone," Supporters Disagree," August 24, 2016) .
Measure V calls for a $345 million bond to fund Santa Monica College facilities improvement projects ("$345 Million Santa Monica College Bond Measure Placed on Ballot," July 7, 2016).
Measure SM would strengthen Santa Monica’s anti-corruption law. There is no organized opposition to the proposal ("Council Finalizes Santa Monica Anti-Corruption Measure for Ballot," July 29, 2016).
There are 17 statewide measures tackling a range of issues, including marijuana legalization, capital punishment, the plastic bag ban and prescription drug prices ("Santa Monica Council Backs State and County Ballot Measures," October 3, 2016).
Also on the ballot is Measure A, a County property tax proposal to support parks projects, and Measure M, which calls for a half-cent sales tax to fund various countywide transportation projects.
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