By Lookout Staff
Editor’s Note: The Lookout News sent several questions to the 10 candidates running for Santa Monica City Council. Eight responded. Each answer was limited to 150 words. The Lookout is publishing the candidates' answers over several days.
October 20, 2016 -- Today's question: Supporters of Measure SM say it will strengthen the city's anti-corruption law, commonly known as the Oaks Initiative. Do you support it? Does more need to be done about corruption in the City government beyond this measure?
Armen Melkonians, challenger
Yes on Measure SM. The original "Oaks Initiative" was adopted by the voters of Santa Monica 16 years ago and has never been enforced. In the recent past, the City Attorney claimed a conflict of interest when asked to enforce the law against her own employers, the City Council. Measure SM will strengthen the Oaks initiative by placing enforcement responsibility in the hands of an independent Criminal Division of the City Attorney's office or a special prosecutor who has no conflict. That's a good thing. More can be done. I would also support a new law that would ban private, or ex-parte communication between developers and the city's Planning Commissioners and elected officials who make decisions on developers' projects.
Tony Vazquez, incumbent
I do support it and I believe it addresses most of our concerns in city government.
Terry O’Day, incumbent
I support Measure SM as it provides some necessary improvements to the Oaks Initiative to make it more practical and enforceable.
Terence Later, challenger
I do support the Oaks initiative and in 2006 I was the only candidate that supported it and was opposed to Proposition W which gutted the Oaks initiative.
Ted Winterer, incumbent
Yes, I support Measure SM. As for the second question, I take exception to it, as it's a bit like asking someone when did you stop beating your wife -- it presumes guilt. I've seen no evidence of corruption in our city, especially with the very low threshold we have in place for donations to Council candidates. And for greater transparency we've in recent years added requirements for a lobbyist registry, made emails to Council on agenda items accessible to the public, created an audit committee with resident members to review City finances and required ex parte disclosures by Councilmembers. That said, I would like to see Oaks further amended to restrict campaign donations prior to a vote to confer a benefit.
Mende Smith, challenger
Yes, I support the citizenry against corruption and big money in politics. I advocate for public funding of elections.
Jon Mann, challenger
I support the Oaks Initiative, but again it doesn't go far enough. I am the only candidate who has called for an investigation on cronyism, revolving door politics, conflict of interest among city council, staff and city contractors, and all members of the SMRR Steering committee, present and past, etc.
Gleam Davis, incumbent
I support Measure SM. I do not think that the City needs to put any additional anti-corruption safeguards in place.