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Electing Mayor Could be a Struggle

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By Jorge Casuso

December 5, 2022 -- Tuesday night's vote for mayor could test the two-year-old Change coalition on the Council as two members are expected to vie for the mostly ceremonial post.

Councilmember Phil Brock, who finished first in 2020 heading the slate that was swept into office by a voter revolt, wants to serve a two-year term as mayor.

Councilmember Oscar de la Torre -- who also belongs to the three-member Change slate on the seven-member Council -- would like to split the term, making him the City's second Latino mayor in nearly 150 years.

For Brock, who is a ubiquitous presence at public events, the chance to become the Santa Monica's figurehead would fulfill a lifelong dream.

"I would be honored to serve as mayor," Brock said. "This city is my life."

Councilmember Lana Negrete, who was reelected on November 8 and represents a swing vote on the Council, believes Brock is in a position to step into the post.

"Phil's already doing this stuff," Negrete said. "People already think he's the mayor. With Phil, he'll be at everything."

Negrete and Change Councilmember Christine Parra are expected to back Brock's bid, but he would likely need the support of de la Torre to garner the four required votes.

Ansd that, at least initially, is not likely to happen.

"It's better if you share," de la Torre said. "When you have a coalition, you want to keep people together. I think (sharing the mayor's post) would be an appropriate thing."

De la Torre, who served on the School Board for 18 years, believes it would be a significant stride for the City to pick a Latino from the Pico Neighborhood as mayor.

He notes that the only Latino to hold the post was Tony Vazquez, who lives in Sunset Park and was not born in the City.

"I think it would be important to rectify that," de la Torre said. "There's something greater that we can accomplish that's not self promotion."

If Brock and de la Torre hold their ground, a fourth vote for either could be hard to come by.

Caroline Torosis and Jesse Zwick -- who will be sworn in Tuesday after winning two seats by wide margins last month -- are solid no votes for either candidate.

That leaves Councilmember Gleam Davis, who like Zwick and Torosis is backed by the liberal establishment but worked with Brock on his failed transfer tax hike, Measure DT.

If she fails to vote for either, it could be a long, drawn-out process that could delay the start of the parties planned to celebrate last month's winners.

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