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Major Political Establishment Groups to Field United Council Slate


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By Jorge Casuso

June 27, 2024 -- Santa Monica's political establishment will field a united slate in the November race for four City Council seats after the local Democratic Club made its endorsements Wednesday.

The group, "by a wide margin," endorsed Santa Monica College Trustee Barry Snell, Planning Commission Chair Ellis Raskin, Natalya Zernitskaya and Pier Corporation Board member Dan Hall, Club officials announced Thursday.

The endorsements come four days after Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights (SMRR) chose the same four candidates in an unusually swift vote on the first ballot.

The slate must win two seats to regain the Council majority after a divided slate in 2022 led to the political establishment's opponents maintaining a one-seat majority on the seven-member Council ("Dem Club Membership Breaks with Tradition in 'Surprising Upset,'" September 30, 2022).

"This year, all of the major progressive organizations are aligning behind this same team of four Council candidates, which they hope will lead to a successful outcome in the Council election," Dem Club officials said afteer Wednesday's vote.

They noted that the Club "has often found itself on opposing sides" from the Council's Change majority "on crucial local issues such as housing, mobility, tenants rights, workers rights, and LGBTQ rights."

The Change majority -- which has focused on public safety as its core issue -- has yet to forge a slate, with only Councilmember Oscar de la Torre announcing he will seek reelection on November 5.

Mayor Phil Brock and Councilmember Christine Parra said they have not yet made a decision, although Brock is widely expected to run.

Gleam Davis, who has been backed by SMRR and the Dem Club since her appointment to the Council in 2009, has announced she will not seek reelection.

Two years ago, Raskin won SMRR's endorsement, while the Dem Club broke ranks and backed Zernitskaya, paving the way for the re-election of Councilmember Lana Negrete after the two candidates split the establishment vote.

It was not the first time both groups fielded slightly different slates. In the 2020 race for four Council seats, the Dem Club endorsed O'Day after he failed to win SMRR's backing.

O'Day was one of three incumbents that were swept out of office by an unprecedented voter revolt.

This year, the Dem Club, as well as SMRR, held its nominating conventions months earlier than usual "in an attempt to best position its candidates to be successful," said Club President Jon Katz.

“We hope the early endorsement will help to consolidate the field and unify liberal, progressive, and Democratic voters in Santa Monica around our slate of candidates,” Katz said.

The nomination period for City Council takes place from July 15 to August 19 and will be extended to August 24 if an incumbent does not file.

The LA County Registrar will begin mailing Vote by Mail ballots to voters on October 7. The last day to register to vote is October 21. Election Day is November 5.

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