City council candidates answer Y
In less than three weeks, the residents of Santa Monica will elect five new city council members. Each resident will have the opportunity to cast their vote for three 4-year candidates and two 2-year candidates as well as a "yes" or "no" vote for propositions such as the tax increase Measure Y.
This past Monday, The Santa Monica Mirror hosted all 15 candidates and a modest group of Santa Monica citizens at the Santa Monica Public Library for a strictly enforced one-minute question-and-answer forum to assist the city's voters in getting to know each of the Nov. 2 hopefuls.
Of the candidates, ten would be first term council members. Fresh faces up for a two-year term include the chairman of the Pico Improvement organization, Robert Kronovet, Santa Monica Observer's Publisher David Ganezer, and founder of Santa Monica Tenants' Rights Clinic, Susan Hartley, all of whom are opposed to Measure Y's sales tax increase.
The incumbents for this term are Gleam Davis, lawyer, and Terry O'Day who served on the planning commission prior to his appointment to Council. Both support the tax increase. There are six new candidates vying for the three 4-year seats which the incumbents, Bob Holbrook, Pam O'Connor, and Kevin McKeown hope to recapture: Jerry Rubin, Linda Armstrong, Jean McNeil-Wyner, Terence Later, Ted Winterer, Jon Louis Mann, and Daniel Cody. Cody has served as the chair of the finance committee for Santa Monica for the past three years.
While the selected questions, submitted to The Mirror by a series of concerned citizens, were pre-delivered to each candidate, the one-minute answer time constraint was strictly enforced, and many of the questions were rich.
The questions read covered issues ranging from the city's import of water, to the future of the airport, to each candidate's position on developer-homeowner relations and the highly debated tax-payer obligation to provide low income housing for city educators and rescue workers. But, the theme of the evening was taxation and transparency.
All five of the incumbent council members are in favor of Measure Y so as to avoid having to continue the budget cuts the council was forced to make.
Currently, Santa Monica boasts 265 city employees per square mile, according to David Ganezer, and one of the largest city budgets in the nation. Yet, Ganezer said that "the current city council put Measure Y on the ballot because they don't want to make the necessary budget cuts to meet their $13.4 million shortfall."
Ganezer says no to Y and yes to YY. The funds for education are already in the current council's budget, according to Terence Later who, if elected, promises to make "line-by-line budget cuts." And Daniel Cody promises "no new taxes" if he's voted into office, as well.
On the other side of the taxation/transparency argument is Gleam Davis who argues that Measure Y is necessary because, for example, the current council would not consider a reduction in employee compensation (Santa Monica's City Manager is paid $315,000.00 plus benefits) to expand the parks program, which Davis also supports, because "funding for new parks would come from the Capital Fund," as the project would begin and end in one year. "Wages are part of the Operational Fund," said Davis, who also supports YY as only an advisory because otherwise, said Davis, "Y would have to pass with a two-thirds vote."
All the incumbents supporting Measure Y would like to direct money to the General Education Fund, which said Davis, includes "afterschool programs, but not community colleges."