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Davis Tops Santa Monica Council Campaign Spending  

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By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

February 6, 2017 -- The 2016 edition of the Santa Monica City Council election campaign was the most uneventful in recent memory, so it was fitting that there was relatively a small amount of spending.

Incumbent Gleam Davis was the top spender with $66,148. This was a big drop from 2014 when Sue Himmelrich led the expenditure list with $173,000, including a record-breaking $160,000 of her own money.

Davis was easily elected to her second full term in November. Her fellow incumbents -- Terry O’Day, Ted Winterer and Tony Vazquez -- joined Davis on the lists of election winners and top four campaign spenders ("Santa Monica Council Incumbents Sweep, LV Loses Big," November 9, 2016).

The other incumbents' spending: Winterer ($55,880), O’Day ($36,990) and Vazquez ($30,937).

The incumbents had seven opponents, but only three of them reported any spending.

Armen Melkonians led the challengers with nearly $19,000. Phil Brock, who joined the campaign in the final days as a write-in candidate, spent nearly $3,200.

Green Party activist Mende Smith reported a limited amount of spending.

Among the challengers not reporting any spending was Oscar de la Torre, who serves on the school board and heads the Pico Youth & Family Center. He posted a website, but did not do much active campaigning.

The top spender among all local candidates in November was Sion Roy, who unsuccessfully ran for a seat on the Santa Monica College (SMC) board in a $77,000 campaign.

Roy faced a significant challenge against three incumbents on a board that rarely sees incumbents lose ("Incumbents Outnumber Challengers in Santa Monica Board Races," July 20, 2016).

Winning incumbents Susan Aminoff and Margaret Quinones-Perez spent approximately $33,000 each. Rob Rader spent $29,000 in his re-election campaign.

The Santa Monica Rent Control Board race featured a high amount of spending -- at least compared to usual campaigns for seats on that panel.

Realtor Elaine Golden-Gealer, who often speaks at board meetings in opposition with colorful PowerPoint presentations, spent more than $17,000 in a mostly self-funded campaign.

Her large spending did nothing to change the usual result -- with the victory going to the Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR) endorsees as it almost always does.

Anastasia Foster, who was appointed to the board earlier in 2016, spent almost $6,600 to win her first full term on the board. Newcomer Caroline Torosis was elected with nearly $6,800 in spending.

Both candidates were also helped by SMRR campaigning on their behalf. The powerful organization also campaigned in favor of council candidates Davis, Winterer and Vazquez, as well as the SMC board incumbents ("SMRR Endorses Three Santa Monica Council Incumbents, Won’t Back LUVE," August 1, 2016).

There was additional campaigning in the candidate races by various groups, but the amount was much smaller than it has been in previous years.

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