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O'Connor Returns as Mayor, Shriver to Be Future Mayor Pro Tem

By Cindy Frazier

December 15 -- In a stunning upset for tenant activists -- and a show of political force by rookie Council member Bobby Shriver - the City Council voted 4 to 3 to elect Pam O'Connor to a one-year term as mayor, while Herb Katz was chosen as mayor pro tem.

The second year of the two-year term will see Robert Holbrook as mayor and Shriver, who was the top vote getter in the November 2 race for four open council seats, as mayor pro tem.

The mayor and pro tem posts are primarily ceremonial, with the mayor chairing the council meetings and representing the City at official functions, while the mayor pro tem serves in those capacities when the mayor is unavailable.

Shriver made the motion to replace Richard Bloom as mayor. Bloom had proposed that his political allies, Ken Genser and Kevin McKeown, serve as mayor and mayor pro tem, respectively.

The newly elected council voted with obvious self-interest, with O'Connor, Katz, Holbrook and Shriver voting themselves into leadership posts, defeating Genser, McKeown and Bloom, who also voted as a bloc.

All but Shriver have previously served in leadership positions on the council. O'Connor served one year as mayor in 1998-99; Katz was mayor pro tem from 1986 to 1988; and Holbrook was mayor in 1997-98.

In the November election, Shriver and Katz were both supported by Santa Monica business interests, while Bloom and Genser had the backing of Santa Monicans for Renters Rights, the city's longtime powerhouse tenant activist group.

Despite the lack of support from renters' advocates, Shriver -- brother of Maria Shriver, California's First Lady -- received nearly 5,000 more votes than his closest rival, Bloom, and the highest number of votes for a single council candidate in two decades.

Shriver's election as mayor pro tem is the first time in 23 years that a rookie council member was tapped for one of the top posts. The last fledgling council member to be boosted to a leadership position in his first year was Ken Edwards, who served as mayor pro tem from 1981 to 1983.

Shriver's 23,260 votes in last month's council race was the highest vote tally since Edwards garnered 25,780 votes in 1984. ("Shriver Victory Gap Largest in 20 Years," December 13)

Stepping down as mayor, Bloom said he was "proud to work as a team serving the city."

Following the vote, O'Connor stepped smoothly into the mayor's role, after praising Bloom and McKeown for their service.

"They have given of their hearts and worked diligently," O'Connor said.

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