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Status Quo Prevails in Santa Monica

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Santa Monica College
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By Jorge Casuso

November 22, 2022 -- With an estimated 15,105 ballots left to count -- out of the nearly 2.5 million cast in LA County -- the political status quo has prevailed in Santa Monica this election season.

Every incumbent was returned to office -- many by huge margins -- and every ballot measure but one was approved, with most cruising to easy victories ("Ballot Measures Nearly Make Clean Sweep," November 22, 2022).

In the race for City Council, Lana Negrete, the only incumbent vying for one of three open seats, is headed back to the dais two years after three incumbents were swept from office during a voter revolt.

Meanwhile Rent Board Commissioner Caroline Torosis and newcomer Jesse Zwick will replace Mayor Sue Himmelrich and Councilmember Kristin McCowan as representatives of Santa Monica's liberal establishment.

With the tenth post-election count Tuesday, Torosis easily cemented her first-place finish with 17,709 votes, followed by Zwick with 16,117 votes and Negrete with 11,627 votes.

Natalya Zernitskaya finished nearly 1,000 voted behind Negrete with 10,667 votes, followed by slow-growth activist Armen Melkonians with 10,190 votes and Planning Commissioner Ellis Raskin with 10,181 votes.

Recreation and Parks Commissioner Albin Gielicz finished a far distant seventh with 4,014 votes despite endorsements from the police union and Chamber of Commerce. Whitney Bain, who had 3,423 votes, had no major endorsements.

Troy Harris had 3,388 votes, followed by Samantha Mota with 2,479 votes, while Jonathan Mann -- who ran for a record 16th time -- had 1,514 votes and Arthur Jeon, who pulled out too late to be removed from the ballot, had 1,500 votes.

In the races for School and College boards, which include Malibu, and Rent Control Board, where incumbents faced no challengers, all seven incumbents cruised to easy victories.

In the race for four open School Board seats incumbent Laurie Lieberman finished a strong first with 20,338 votes followed by fellow incumbent Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein with 18,889 votes.

Stacy Rouse, the only Malibu resident on the ballot, finished a close third with 18,889 votes, followed by Alicia Mignano with 18,241 votes.

Three candidates backed by A Brighter Future slate -- which aimed to shake up the status quo and also endorsed Rouse -- all finished more than 6,500 votes behind Mignano.

Esther Hickman had 11,841 votes, Angela DiGaetano has 11,197 and Miles Warner had 11,095 votes.

School Boardmembers Keith Coleman and Craig Foster did not seek reelection, although Colamen received 4,788 votes after failing to pull out of the race before the deadline.

Three incumbents on the College Board -- Sion Roy, Nancy Greenstein and Barry Snell -- will return to the seven-member board, along with Tom Peters, all of whom cruised to easy victories with more than 21,000 votes each.

Roy received 23,224 votes, followed by Greenstein with 23,106 votes, Peters with 22,211 votes and Snell with 21,709 votes. Patrick Acosta II finished a far distant fifth with 8,664 votes.

Facing no competition, Rent Board incumbents Ericka Lesley and Kurt Gonska, who were recently appointed to the five-member board, will be joined by Daniel S. Ivanov, the only other candidate on the ballot.

The next ballot count update will be on Tuesday, November 22, but there are too few votes left to count to make a difference in the Santa Monica races.

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