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Planning Commissioner to Seek Council Seat

By Jorge Casuso

July 5 -- Planning Commissioner Terry O’Day, an environmentalist and Pico Neighborhood resident, will seek one of three open seats on the Santa Monica City Council, The Lookout has learned.

O’Day -- who replaced Kelly Olsen, a controversial anti-development force on the City’s most powerful board two years ago -- said he would run as a unity candidate and bring a fresh perspective to the council.

“I think it’s time for a new generation,” said O’Day, who is 33. “No one from my generation has been elected to the City Council and no one from the Pico Neighborhood has been elected.

“I’m a candidate that represents a unity message,” O’Day said. “There’s a great opportunity to make change happen in the city.”

The father of a two-year-old daughter, O’Day lives in a condo in the Pico Neighborhood with his pregnant wife, Tiffany, who works for a company that provide therapy for autistic children.

No one from the city’s most diverse and poorest neighborhood has been elected to the council, although Hillard L. Lawson, an African American from the Pico Neighborhood, was appointed to fill a vacant seat from 1973 to 1975.

“Pico has more kids than any other neighborhood, kids affected by youth violence who need job opportunities that keep them close to their families in Santa Monica,” O’Day said.

The neighborhood also has the highest “density” of services and affordable housing in the city. It also is grappling with traffic problems generated by Santa Monica College, an institution O’Day has supported, voting for several recent bond measures.

“The college is a really important asset to the community,” said O’Day, adding that he hopes to help build a better working relationship between college and City officials.

The executive director of Environment Now (the organization that founded Santa Monica Bay Keeper) and the former owner of a small, alternative-vehicle rent-a-car company in Los Angeles, O’Day said he offers a business perspective with an environmental bent.

“I’ll be doing outreach to businesses to show I’m an environmentalist, but look, no horns,” O’Day said.

O’Day will be seeking the endorsement of Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, the powerful tenants group that has controlled city government for most of the past quarter century.

Incumbents Pam O’Connor and Kevin McKeown, as well as education advocate Gleam Davis, also will seek the SMRR endorsement.

Mayor Bob Holbrook, a staunch opponent of the renters’ group, also is seeking to retain his seat on the seven-member council.

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