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Mayor Pro Tem McCowan Denounces "Misguided Accusations"

Following are the comments made by Councilmember Kristin McCowan before being unanimously re-selected to serve two years as Mayor Pro Tem.

I'd like to say a few things about what has transpired this meeting and over the last few weeks.

First I want to thank you all for coming here tonight with an open mind, and I'm grateful for all the people that wrote in and called in this evening.

I want to take this opportunity to clarify some of what has been circulating. Based on public comment that we received, I feel that I must address a few things.

The Violation

With regard to the Brown Act violation, I stand by my initial statement that I expressed a willingness to serve and I could not be more proud today that I was willing to openly disclose that for all of you. I'm just as proud today as I was that I did that on December 8.

As was stated in Mr. Cardona’s letter, this is what you want your elected officials to do -– to be honest and transparent. The breadth of the Brown Act’s restriction on serial meetings speaks to 1) how easily it can be violated and 2) how inadvertently it can be violated.

Once a violation is identified, however, the Brown Act permits it to be cured. I maintain that I cured my self-identified violation on December 8, but I supported bringing this up for a revote so that the City as a whole is better positioned to know that I and the Council value transparency and a full airing of the issues.

The Bigger Problem

Over the last month, since Ms. Zurawska’s demand letter and particularly since this item was re-agendized for tonight, I have come under severe personal attack by some in this community. I want to be clear -– I have earned my right to be on this council and I am not going to let anyone diminish that.

I absolutely respect that some may have a history with the City that leads them to believe that their best interests or their desired interests are not being represented by every councilmember -– to those people I will simply say that there will always be someone else just as passionate that feels the complete opposite so it is important that we maintain perspective.

I have never met an elected official in our City who did not believe they were putting residents first. Lately the prospect of “resident first” has been usurped by some in our community who identify only certain councilmembers as putting residents first.

The funny thing about that moniker is that it would imply in a city of 90,000 plus that only that number that voted for the particular councilmember they believe puts residents first are the resident voices that deserve a say.

32,000 plus people cast their vote for me in November. I too was elected and yes, I was previously also appointed. At the beginning of campaign season, I had an opponent when the filing period for candidates closed. That candidate did not end up qualifying, so I was on the ballot unopposed.

But what I know is that many of the individuals protesting my nomination today did not vote for me. They were not among the 32,000 plus. And while I represent all Santa Monicans on Council, I will not let these vocal few silence those 32,000 voices. I will not recuse, as some have been calling for.

Our country is in a very dark place. We turned over power to an egomaniacal maniac in 2016. He put himself first before country at every turn and we have seen the devastation that can cause.

What qualifies me for this role as Mayor Pro Tem is not only my years of government service at the Federal, State and local level -– what qualifies me for this role is that I am committed to putting the needs of others above my own.

Throughout my lifetime, I was taught that becoming a public servant is not about my own power or what I personally get out of it, it is 100% about how I can use myself in service to others.

Serving on the Council, and more specifically in the leadership role of Mayor Pro Tem, is not just about doing what people ask us to do, it’s also about approaching it with unwavering ethics.

To that end I believe it is important that my colleagues understand just who I am because it seems there is some confusion.

I have taken an oath to serve the Constitution of the United States in one form or another since I was 24 years old. My first professional job on Capitol Hill was with the Committee on House Administration.

At that time, there was a scandal on the Hill within my own Committee, that showed me up close the clear responsibility that elected officials and their staff bare to be above reproach.

When I was 33 years old, in order to begin my position with the Obama Administration – first at Homeland Security and then at the White House – I had to receive a Top Secret, Sensitive Compartmentalized Information (TS-SCI) clearance from the FBI.

For more than nine weeks, my entire background was thoroughly investigated by agents on the ground who interviewed dozens of people In more than six states who had both direct and indirect contact with me over the course of my life.

In short, I received my clearance -– which is a testament to both how I conduct myself personally and professionally and how I have throughout the course of my life.

I say all this so that everyone on this council understands that my ethics have never and will never be compromised. This is the standard for which we all should strive, and I will not allow a few loud voices who know nothing of me or my history to suggest that I am an ethically compromised individual.

I take that very personally and I will not stand for misguided accusations. We all make mistakes. A real leader admits them and takes responsibility. And sadly, apparently I was the only one that chose to do so.

I love this city. I love who we are and what we stand for. I do not wish to address the racist undertones permeating public discourse these last weeks and months, but I will say that I have an important voice and perspective.

I have every right to serve as Mayor Pro Tem and my years working in government and these past six months on the Council amply qualify me to serve in this role at this time.

I will not allow the disgusting rhetoric of some diminish me or the value my voice adds to our community or those I represent.

I hope that the leadership and professionalism I have shown as Councilmember and now Mayor Pro Tem have helped you all to see that I should continue in this role at this time.

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