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Education Group Endorses Four Council Candidates for Three Seats


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September 19, 2018 -- After backing all four winners in the 2016 City Council race, the Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS) is backing four candidates in the November 6 race for three open seats.

In an unusual move, the two-decades-old group backed incumbents Sue Himmelrich, Kevin McKeown and Pam O'Connor, and challenger Greg Morena, all of whom have won key endorsements from major local political groups.

"CEPS is pleased to endorse both incumbents and newcomers who are demonstrated supporters of education," the group said in a statement released Tuesday.

"In the race for three seats on the Santa Monica City Council, CEPS has identified four qualified candidates."

In the race for three School Board seats, CEPS endorsed incumbents Craig Foster, Laurie Lieberman and Richard Tahlvidaran-Jesswein.

While in the race for four seats on the Santa Monica College Board, CEPS endorsed incumbents Nancy Greenstein, Louise Jaffe, Barry Snell and challenger Sion Roy.

For the second election in a row, incumbent Oscar de la Torre did not receive the group's endorsement.

CEPS' steering committee also voted to support Measure SMS, a record $485 million school bond to fund facilities in Santa Monica, and Measure M, a $195 million bond for Malibu.

"Measures SMS and M will supply the capital funding to enable SMMUSD to implement safety improvements and bring classrooms and other school facilities up to 21st century educational standards," the group wrote.

The CEPS steering committee also voted to back Measure RR, which would allow non-citizens to serve on the City’s Library Board, Personnel Board and Airport Commission.

The group, however, is opposing Measure TL, which would amend the City Charter to limit each of the council’s seven members to three terms ("Santa Monica Voters to Decide Term Limits for Council in November," July 5, 2018).

"While term limits may sound appealing, they could cost the Council trusted leaders whose experience and intelligence benefit our community," CEPS wrote.

In past Council races, CEPS has not always matched the number of candidates it endorses to the number of open seats.

Before backing four incumbents in the Council race two years ago, CEPS endorsed only two candidates in 2014 -- O'Connor and challenger Frank Gruber, who finished fifth in the race for three seats.

That year, the group raised $69,429.36 for the election, dwarfing the total $31,696 raised in the previous four elections combined ("Santa Monica Education Advocacy Group Raises More Than $50K," October 23, 2014).

In 2016 -- when it backed incumbents Tony Vazquez, Gleam Davis, Terry O’Day and Ted Winterer -- the group raised $45,682.55.

That year CEPS also backed a $345 million college bond and a transaction and use tax and companion advisory measure, and opposed slow-growth measure LV ("Santa Monica Education Group Backs Incumbents, Opposes LV," September 27, 2016).

CEPS has never backed more candidates than seats available.


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