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Bloom Elected Mayor

By Jorge Casuso

Dec. 11, 2002 -- With little opposition or debate, the City Council Tuesday night voted to make Richard Bloom Santa Monica's mayor for the next two years. It then reelected Kevin McKeown as Mayor ProTem.

A family attorney with a low-key style, Bloom will assume the post during trying economic times, replacing Michael Feinstein, who brought a colorful, counter-culture style to the mostly ceremonial post.

Bloom, who will be the first mayor in nearly 15 years with children at home, thanked his wife, two sons, parents and in-laws, then stared at the cable television camera and said: "What do you think, Pop? Pretty cool, eh?"

"Thank you for electing me mayor," Bloom said. "This is a position of great responsibility, and I hope that I can serve in as good a fashion as many of you have."

The 6 to 0 vote (Councilman Herb Katz abstained) quickly put an end to what some political observers expected would be a nomination battle between Bloom and McKeown, both of whom had expressed interest in the post.

Genser opened the nomination process by making a motion to split the two-year term between the two, but the motion failed for lack of a second.

Katz then nominated Council member Pam O'Connor. But O'Connor, who had already served two separate one-year terms, declined to serve when others had not had the chance. Instead, she nominated Bloom, who was swiftly elected with no debate.

Mayor Michael Feinstein then nominated McKeown, a fellow Green Party member, to continue to serve as Mayor Pro Tem, a post whose main charge is to preside over council meetings in the mayor's absence.

McKeown was elected to the ceremonial post with a 5 to 0 vote (Katz and Councilman Bob Holbrook abstained.)

McKewon noted that the term "pro tem" was Latin for "for the time being."

"Three years could be a record," McKeown said. "I take this role very seriously and will continue to take it very seriously."

Bloom, who will be the first mayor since James Conn filled the post from 1986 to 1988 to have children at home, thanked his family "for giving me permission to run," adding that, "There will be some repercussions at home."

Conn said that it was tough holding the post while raising a family. "Raising a teenager there were things I didn't go to because I had to take care of a child," Conn told The Lookout shortly after Tuesday's vote.

"It was tough," Conn said. "I decided I was not going to be spending the next four years on the City Council."

Conn noted how long it had been since a mayor served while raising children. (Holbrook's children had left home when he served in the mid-1990s, and none of the other mayors since Conn have had children when in office.)

"It takes someone who's been here a long time to remember there was a mayor with kids," Conn said.

Shortly after the gavel was passed, council members thanked Feinstein for serving as mayor.

McKeown said the mayor had filled the post with a "special style." He added that "members of the public always felt welcome to a meeting that you chaired."

Bloom praised both Feinstein and McKeown. "Both of you have qualities of humor and humility. You have been a beacon of light" during trying times.

Feinstein then recalled the highlights of his tenure -- attending the 50th anniversary of a square dancing club, posing for a picture with the owner of a business that showcased a photograph of the first owner with the mayor in 1938, attending an awards ceremony for a courageous boy scout and seeing the glee in the eyes of Mexican children when they heard the mayor speak in their native language.

He then thanked his mother, who moved to Santa Monica shortly before her son was elected mayor, saying he hoped he had validated his "career path" by serving as mayor after years of back-packing and roaming the world.

Feinstein then reflected on how temporary the post is, something he realized when he pulled up to the mayor's space before meeting and found a car parked there.

"I guess it's my time," he said.
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