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Council Frontrunner Has Deep Establishment Ties

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By Jorge Casuso

June 29, 2021 -- Caroline Torosis --- the frontrunner for a City Council appointment -- had widespread support across Santa Monica's political establishment in her two successful bids for Rent Control Board.

Supporters who either endorsed or donated money to her 2016 and 2020 campaigns include Mayor Sue Hummelrich, Mayor Pro Tem Kristin McCowan and Councilmembers Gleam Davis and Phil Brock, who heads the Change faction on the Council.

Other supporters included former Councilmembers Kevin McKeown -- who vacated his seat earlier this month --, Ted Winterer, Terry O'Day and Tony Vazquez.

In last year's re-election bid Torosis also had the support of SMRR Co-Chairs Denny Zane and Michael Soloff and of Abby Arnold, Co-Chair of Santa Monica Forward, an influential group backed by developers.

Other political heavyweights who supported Torosis -- who is LA County Supervisor Holly Mitchell’s Senior Deputy for Economic Opportunity -- include State Senator Ben Allen, State Assembleymember Richard Bloom and U.S. Congressman Ted Lieu.

Jones of the Bay

While most of Torosis' local supporters belong to Santa Monica's political establishment, they also have included Mary Marlow, who heads the Santa Monica Transparency Project, a political watchdog group allied with the slow-growth movement.

Marlow donated $100 to Torosis' 2016 campaign, as did Councilmember Brock, who along with Oscar de la Torre and Christine Parra, ran on the anti-establishment Change slate and are expected to vote as a block Tuesday night.

The Change faction is expected to either choose Torosis, likely giving her appointment unanimous support, or back slow-growth, anti-establishment candidates who have little or no chance of winning a fourth vote ("NEWS ANALYSIS -- Change Councilmembers Face Dilemma With Appointment," June 28, 2021).

A key player in Tuesday's vote is Mayor Himmmelrich, a Torosis supporter who hosted, along with her husband, SMRR Co-Chair Soloff, a fundraiser for Torosis at her North of Montana home.

Torosis won the 2020 Rent Board race with 26,555 votes and also finished first in 2016 with 15,596 votes.

Under the City Charter, if the Council fails to make an appointment, it “shall forthwith cause an election to be held to fill the vacancy.”

A special election would cost the City $528,000, said City Clerk Denise Anderson-Warren.

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