Ted Winterer was elected to the City Council in 2012 and was re-elected in 2016. He is endorsed by Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights (SMRR), Santa Monica Forward, the Coalition of Santa Monica City Employees (CSMCE), the Santa Monica Firefighters Political Activities Committee, the Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS) and the Santa Monica Democratic Club, all of which are spending money to back candidates.
1. Should Santa Monica try to build the 8,874 new housing units by 2028 mandated by SCAG?
Yes. Always better to box rather than brawl with a stronger opponent and the State is determined to push through these housing targets. So we should create a new Housing Element, required by the State, to show where that housing could potentially be built. Then we should ask the State how the heck we’re supposed to fund the 70 percent of the units which are supposed to be affordable to those living below median income levels, since a public subsidy would be required and the State took away our $75 million per year of redevelopment funding.
2. The Plaza project should be
Changed. More accessible open space and affordable housing; better revenues to the City; replace office space with housing; reexamine parking demand. FYI a park is not financially feasible and the priority is more playing fields at Memorial and Airport Parks. And parking under 4th/5th and Arizona would only pay for the cost of building the garage, not a park above. Polling on a parks bond two years ago showed voters would not approve it as they are happy with our current parks -– unlikely to change in a recession.
3. The City needs more major developments to help balance the budget.
False. One can always balance a budget by reducing services and our budget is currently balanced through June 2021. However, the public input over cuts last spring showed just how much Santa Monicans value our discretionary spending. Since the LUCE fiscal analysis showed that, of all land uses, hotels are the only one which generates revenues way in excess of the costs of providing services, we should continue to evaluate a couple of new hotels to enable restoration of after school programs, library hours, senior services, programs for at-risk youth, etc.
4. The Council should have delayed voting on the Miramar project until after the election.
True. I would have preferred to have waited, but it was not my decision to make. The Mayor and the Mayor Pro Tem work with City staff on agenda management. Involvement by other Councilmembers would be a violation of the Brown Act, a State law.
5. When it comes to hotel developments, the City Council has consistently sided with Unite HERE Local 11.
True. However, the common ground is more a result of coinciding interests rather than undue political influence. The union wants the good jobs with benefits provided by the local hiring provisions, as does the Council. And as noted above, the Council seeks the revenues to support essential and discretionary spending.
6. Is Santa Monica's City government racist?
No. But we have work to do to be anti-racist, such as more training on innate bias in all departments including the Council. We have instituted Equity and Inclusion Officers in every department to serve on a Racial Equity Committee and funded a Black Agenda to redress past wrongs. And I urge voters to approve Measure AB to remove from the City Charter language which may require implicit racism in our hiring and promotion processes.
7. Should the police budget be reduced?
Yes. Council will review the SMPD budget to seek savings to be deployed to social services and other community needs without diminishing the efficacy of a department which reduced crime 16 percent in 2019.
8. If coronavirus cases spike, should the City order another economic shutdown?
No. Not the City’s decision to make, as we along with 85 other cities in LA County must follow the COVID-19 rules set by the County Department of Public Health, along with any State edicts.
9. Santa Monica is one of the few Southern California cities to issue fines for not wearing a face mask. Do you support that policy?
10. The budget cutbacks forced by the coronavirus shutdown were the inevitable result of the City's decades' long spending spree.
False. Spending spree? With a balanced budget and AAA bond rating reflecting our prudent fiscal practices? No, our cutbacks were due to the same recessionary impacts facing all states and cities. The LA Times noted that cities in CA face losses of $6.7B over two years, while state and local governments in the U.S, will face a total deficit of up to $650B in the next year. So somehow the situation in Santa Monica is different?
11. City workers are paid too much.
False. Our Audit Subcommittee, on which I serve, commissioned a Compensation Study which reviewed our pay scales compared to peer cities in the region. We found that most salary classifications were in line with our neighbors, save that we paid our top management more. So we took steps to hold the line on those salaries. And the recent budget restructuring eliminated a lot of executive positions while reducing pay by as much as 20 percent.
12. Unions wield too much power over the City Council.
False. Plenty of other entities wield just as much influence. And of course our residents have the ultimate power every election.
13. Do you feel safe in Santa Monica when it comes to crime?
Yes, especially with Part 1 crimes down 16 percent in 2019 and another 10 percent so far in 2020. However, I acknowledge that many residents do not feel safe and that we have much more work to do.
14. The City Council is doing enough to make public parks safer for families.
False. Based on what I hear from residents we can do more.
15. Santa Monica is doing a good job addressing homelessness.
True. With our homeless count down 8 percent while the County’s went up 13 percent and the City of LA’s increased 16 percent, yes we’re doing a good job compared to our neighbors and we don’t have the tent cities which are commonplace elsewhere. That said, an 8 percent reduction is only a start and we need to do better.
16. Who is responsible for the Police Department's response to the May 31 riots?
a) The Police Chief
b) The City Manager
c) The City Council
d) All of the above
The Police Chief
17. The police used excessive force against protesters.
I’ll admit the optics were not good. But it would be imprudent for anyone seeking to serve on the Council to answer this question in advance of the independent review of the after action report, as we live in a nation where due process is still the law of the land. And “excessive force” has a legal definition which requires an analysis by experts.
18. Should Santa Monica switch from an at-large election system to districts?
No. Prior to 1946, voters in Santa Monica elected three Commissioners, one each for Public Works, Finance and Public Safety. The voters then approved by over 70 percent our current Charter with great support from minority constituents. Proposals to move to district elections have subsequently been rejected twice by our voters. And under our current at-large system Councilmembers are accountable to all residents and the concerns of every neighborhood.
19. Despite caps on individual contributions, money remains the biggest factor in winning an election.
True. It takes money to reach voters and until Citizens United is reversed and we have public financing of elections that will be the case.
20. Do you think Councilmembers are transparent when they disclose their personal and political finances?
Yes. All of my campaign contributions and my annual Form 700 disclosing my personal finances are readily available for the public to review at the City Clerk’s website.
21. Was the $77 million "uber-Green" City Hall annex a good investment?
Yes. The dollars used to rent offices elsewhere in the city are now used to pay the debt for construction, so the taxpayers will own an asset rather than having spent money on rent. It's like renting v. owning a home -- in the former one is subject to payment increases while in the latter payments are fixed, predictable and paid with cheaper dollars in the future. And the green features eliminate all utility bills at a time when costs for energy and water are only going up. Finally, residents can obtain City services in one location.
22. The City spends too much money fighting climate change.
False. Our climate policy is focused as much on prudently adapting to climate change as on reducing our carbon footprint. And in absence of a sane Federal climate agenda, it’s incumbent on cities and states to do what they can to keep the U.S. on track for the Paris accords goals. Some mistakenly believe that when we adopted our Climate Action and Adaptation Plan we also approved allocation of City funds towards the plan. Actually, we acknowledged that much of the cost would have to be paid by other sources such as a Federal carbon tax or State cap-and-trade funds.