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Davis, Brock to Serve Year Each as Mayor

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By Jorge Casuso

December 6, 2022 -- After a halting start and three quick rounds of voting, the City Council Tuesday night elected Councilmembers Gleam Davis and Phil Brock to serve one year each as mayor.

Davis -- who was mayor in 2019 -- will serve the first year and Brock will hold the mostly ceremonial post when he runs for reelection in 2024. Councilmember Lana Negrete will serve both years as mayor pro tem.

Negrete was the swing vote, joining the three members of the liberal establishment on the Council to thwart an effort by the three Change members to have Brock and Councilmember Oscar de la Torre share the mayor's post.

The voting got off to an awkward start after several attempts by City Clerk Denise Anderson-Warren to solicit nominations were met with silence.

"Come on, I know you've all thought about it," she said.

The voting finally began with a motion by Councilmember Christine Parra to have Brock and de la Torre take turns as mayor, but it never reached the floor after three substitute motions were floated.

The first substitute motion -- made by newly seated Councilmember Caroline Torosis -- called for Davis and Negrete to serve one year each as mayor, with the other serving as pro tem.

It failed on a 4 to 3 vote, with Negete joining the Change members to oppose it.

Torosis then made the same motion for mayor, only this time Brock would serve two years as pro tem. Again the motion failed with identical votes, before the third substitute motion prevailed.

"I'm honored to be mayor of this wonderful City," said Davis, who has served on the Council since 2009. "I really hope that everybody in this city understands that at the end of the day we want the same thing.

"A happy people in a happy city," she said, quoting the motto on Santa Monica's seal.

Brock, who had hoped to be elected mayor for two years, accepted splitting the term with Davis after having opposed the motion.

"I love Santa Monica, and I'm honored to participate in the leadership of this Council in any way, shape or form," he said.

In voting for splitting the mayor's post between Davis and Brock, Negrete sided with the two new Councilmembers -- Torosis and Jesse Zwick -- she battled in her successful reelection bid.

Zwick thanked "the City that raised me" and recalled playing Little League at Memorial Park, "violating curfew on the Promenade" and listening to the strange sound of Council meetings on public radio.

Torosis, who served six years on the Rent Board, said she planned to focus her first term on equity, transparent governance, homelessness and affordable housing.

Zwick and Torosis will replace Sue Himeelrich and Kristin McCowan, who stepped down as mayor and mayor pro tem after both decided not to run for reelection.

"I am leaving the dais after eight roller-coaster years. I hope I leave the City more stable," Himmelrich said.

"It's been fun, and I leave with a happy heart," she said.

McCowan bid a tearful farewell after serving a little more than two years on the Council, saying she planned to spend more time with her family.

"I don't know if it's harder to leave by choice," McCowan said. "My family is by far the most important thing for me.

"(My children) are the main reason I had to leave this part of my life," McCowan said. "I don't want to miss anymore (time with them).

"I hope you all take good care of the City."

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