By Jason Islas
September 25, 2012 -- Community Against Santa Monica Airport Traffic has rated all 15 candidates for council on whether they are likely to make “real change for the better at SMO,” with incumbents Gleam Davis and Terry O'Day receiving low confidence marks.
On Monday, CASMAT -- which has advocated for significant reductions and mitigation of airport traffic since 2010 -- released their first City Council Candidate Ratings, meant to illustrate which candidates they believe will be the most effective in meeting the group's goals.
“I'm not in the election to win polls or rankings. I'm looking for a permanent, meaningful solution to the problems created by the airport,” Davis, who received a rating of approximately 35 percent, said.
“I'm not dismayed by the ranking and I think that there's plenty of room for new voices in this debate,” O'Day, who received a 30 percent confidenc score, said.
“The expiration of the lease with the FAA in 2015 is an important point of the City's history. Newcomers like CASMAT can provide valuable input,” he said.
Any of the Council members elected this November will still be serving in 2015 when the lease governing SMO -- held by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) -- expires.
Many opponents of the airport see the lease expiration as an opportunity to scale back operations at SMO or even close the airport altogether.
Candidates were judged on whether or not they would be able and willing to make those changes.
“This rating relates to airport issues only; volunteers were instructed to ignore candidate positions on any other subject since these are not CASMAT’s focus,” CASMAT's website reads. “Due to the nature of politics, this rating system is considerably more subjective than CASMAT’s normal reports.”
Of the four candidates who received “high confidence” marks (a rating of 70 percent or higher), none currently serves on the City Council.
The highest ratings went to Planning Commissioners Ted Winterer and Richard McKinnon. The two Planning Commissioners were followed by former Lookout columnist Frank Gruber, who received a rating of just over 80 percent.
“I'm quite pleased to get this high rating because one of the most important issues over the next four years will be trying to close the airport, which I want to do not only to stop its negative impacts on its surroundings, but also because it will present us with a generational opportunity to reclaim the airport for public use,” Gruber said.
Former Council member Tony Vazquez followed Gruber with a score in the high 70s.
“I'm definitely appreciative and excited that they have faith in me,” Vazquez said. “I'm looking forward to working with them to make sure this airport is truly a recreational airport, which means we need to eliminate the corporate jets.”
According to CASMAT founder John Fairweather, a group of between 10 and 20 volunteers ranked candidates based on their responses to questions about the airport in interviews and during the Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution (CRAAP) forum on September 13.
Though the core of CASMAT is made up of only about 25 people, the group has ties to Friends of Sunset Park and the Ocean Park Association.
Fairweather said that these ratings will go out to everyone on CASMAT's e-mail list -- approximately 1,500 people, adding that thousands of people check the website on a regular basis.
The official rankings are available at CASMAT's website: http://www.casmat.org/search/label/Studies