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Nearly Three Dozen Candidates Pull Papers to Run During First Week

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Editor's note: A previous version of this article identified Natalya Zernitskaya as president of the Santa Monica League of Women Voters. Her term ended last month, and she currently holds no board position.  

July 22, 2022 -- (UPDATED) Kevin Shenkman, an education activist and lawyer who represents the plaintiffs in the Voting Rights lawsuit against the City, pulled nominating papers to run for School Board this week.

So did Jon Mann, who pulled nominating papers on Friday to run for City Council for a record 16th time, bringing to 19 the total number of hopefuls vying for three open seats.

The first week of election season ended with a total of 34 candidates vying for open seats on the Council, School Board, College Board and Rent Control Board.

It also ended with Councilmember Kristin McCowan announcing she would not run for re-election, leaving a second seat open after Mayor Sue Himmelrich vowed years ago not to run for a third term.

That leaves only one incumbent -- Councilmember Lana Negrete -- in the race. It also extends the deadline to file or withdraw nominating papers from August 12 to August 15.

Most of the Council front runners -- including Negrete -- pulled papers on Monday, the first day.

She was joined by Rent Board member Coroline Torosis, Planning Commissioner Ellis Raskin, Santa Monica Travel & Tourism (SMTT) Board Chair Albin Gielicz and Armen Melkonians, the founder of Residocracy, an online grassroots group.

Other candidates who pulled papers on Monday were Whitney Bain, who ran for Council in 2014; Carl Arnold; Troy Harris; Samantha Moto; Nathaniel Wilson, Shannon Yoshikawa and Jesse Zwick.

Natalya Zernitskaya, former president of the Santa Monica League of Women Voters, pulled nominating papers on Thursday.

Other candidates who pulled papers for Council during the first week were D. Peter Borresen, Austin Humble, Arthur Jeon, Nathaniel Jones and Alanna Zabel.

Two candidates pulled papers for three open seats on the Rent Control Board, including incumbent Erika Lesley, who was appointed last week. Kurt Gonska was the only other hopeful to pull nominating papers.

Lesley replaced Nicole Phillis, who resigned in May. The Board must now appoint a replacement for Naomi Sultan, who was expected to run for re-election, before announcing her resignation last week.

Both Board members announced they were moving out of Santa Monica. Rent Board Chair Steve Duron, whose term expires at the end of the year, has served the maximum two four-year terms and cannot seek reelection.

In addition to Shenkman, six potential candidates pulled papers in the race for four seats on the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board.

They include incumbents Keith Coleman, Craig Foster, Laurie Lieberman and Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein, as well as challengers Angela DiGaetano, Alicia Mignano and Miles Warner.

In the race for four College Board seats, incumbents Nancy Greenstein, Sion Roy and Barry Snell have pulled nominating papers.

Nathaniel Wilson, who also pulled papers for City Council, and Thomas Peters both pulled papers for College Board last week.

To qualify for the ballot, candidates must gather the valid signatures of 100 Santa Monica voters. Voters may sign one set of papers per vacant seat.

Candidates have until August 12 at 5 p.m. to file or withdraw their nominating papers. The deadline is extended to August 17 at 5:30 p.m. if an incumbent does not file.

On August 18, the Secretary of State will hold a public drawing to determine the order of the names on the ballot.

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