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Mayor Denounces 'Cancel Culture' in Unusual State of the City Speech

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By Jorge Casuso

February 17, 2022 -- Santa Monica Mayor Sue Himmelrich on Tuesday used her State of the City address to denounce the tactics used by her critics to "cancel" her and touted her political accomplishments.

During a highly personal seven-minute conclusion to her speech, Himmelrich addressed the widespread "aggressive hostility" she called "the elephant in every room."

To illustrate what she said were examples of "cancel culture," Himmelrich showed two clips from her Ring doorbell camera that captured a small group of demonstrators protesting vaccine passports.

She also showed a slide of a lawn sign with her face Xed out to protest her support for replacing a Downtown Parking structure with homeless housing and a mockup of her face on a Big Blue Bus portraying her as an opponent of housing.

"The words 'cancel culture' mean different things to different people," Himmelrich said.

She then quoted, which defines the term as "the phenomenon or practice of publicly rejecting, boycotting, or ending support for particular people or groups because of their socially or morally unacceptable views or actions."

"So whether it’s vaccines or parking structures, 'cancel culture' aims at canceling opposing voices -- or even different voices like mine --- by canceling the person, not the message.

"What is most disturbing about cancel culture," Himmelrich said, "is its tenuous relationship to facts -- to what is true and what is false."

Himmelrich -- who has said she will not seek a third Council term -- ended her 22-minute-State of the City address with what resembled a campaign speech.

Himmelrich said she has realized the platform she ran on when she was first elected -- "affordable housing, transparency in government, an audit committee, registering lobbyists, and breaking up the insider game in City Hall."

"When I ran in 2014, my opponents raised $275,000 to defeat me," she said. "But they were not content to support my main opponent -- no, they also published ugly hit pieces and made false robocalls."

Himmerrich then displayed a page from a political flier attacking her and her husband, Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights (SMRR) co-chair and former Housing Commissioner Michael Soloff.

"It attacks not just me but my husband, describing us as liars, cheaters, and greedy anti-environmentalists," the Mayor said.

"Their campaign failed. But this personal attack approach to politics deters many whose goal it is to promote the public good from choosing to run for office and to subject themselves to this kind of abuse," she said.

She concluded the segment of her speech with the following advice.

"Talk is cheap. I encourage you to look behind the words of the folks who seek your vote this year and look carefully at what they have done and how they have voted, particularly on the hard votes.

"I hope that you, like I, will look through the cheap promises and slick literature at your candidates’ life accomplishments and their votes."

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