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Repeat Santa Monica Council Candidates Struggle for Victory
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Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP


Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

September 6, 2016 -- Of the six challengers seeking a seat on the Santa Monica City Council this fall, three have run before. The large number of repeat candidates is not unusual in this city, although the success rate is not high.

In the past two decades, 20 candidates who were not elected incumbents have sought council seats after losing in a previous election--several doing it more than once. Just five have won.

And of those five rare victors, three had advantages.

Tony Vazquez was elected in 2012 after having lost 18 years earlier, but he also knew how to win because he had done so in the 1990 election.

Terry O’Day and Gleam Davis both won their first elections in 2010 after having fallen short in 2006. But in 2010, they had the advantage of being appointed incumbents.

The two candidates elected to the council after previous losing efforts who did not have special advantages were Richard Bloom in 1999 and Ted Winterer in 2012.

Both men had two losses on their records -- Bloom in 1996 and 1998, Winterer in 2006 and 2008.

Bloom’s 1999 win was in a special election to fill the seat vacated by Asha Greenberg ("Bloom Wins in Landslide," April 26, 1999).

This year’s candidates who will attempt to repeat the performances of Bloom and Winterer are Jon Mann, Terence Later and Armen Melkonians.

Mann is running for a record 13th time, and Later is making his sixth bid. Melkonians is a relative rookie, running for a second time. He lost in 2012.

“There are several reasons why I have run for City Council [13] times,” wrote Mann in an email to The Lookout. “I am fed up with the cronyism [and] revolving door politics endemic in our city. I want to take money out of local politics and take back our city from developers!”

Mann has always placed in the bottom half of the results list, several times in the last spot, since running for the first time as a write-in candidate with the name Jon L. Stevens in 1992.

The name change took place in 2004 when he adopted his wife’s last name.

Mann did not specify whether he felt this could be the year he finally gets over the hump, but he told The Lookout the power of the Internet was the only way to overcome a city run by an “incredibly incompetent and counterproductive city council” that is “owned lock, stock and barrel” by Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights and municipal employees.

“The Internet is a powerful tool to level the playing field so anyone can run for office without endorsements and contributions from special interests!” he wrote.

Mann added, “That is why for two decades, I have advocated for a virtual Town Hall on the city website to empower residents and for genuine transparency and accountability of our so called public servants.”

In addition to Mann and Later, there are other perennial candidates in Santa Monica council elections. A couple regulars decided to sit this one out.

Linda Armtrong pulled papers to make a fifth bid, but did not return them. Peace activist Jerry Rubin decided not to run for a seventh time because, he wrote in a Facebook post in July, of health issues (he was injured in a vehicle collision) and he supports the four incumbents.

Armstrong, Rubin and others can still change their mind. Council hopefuls are allowed to file as write-in candidates beginning next Monday.


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