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Sixteen Council Hopefuls Pull Papers

By Olin Ericksen
Staff Writer

July 19 -- A self-styled rags-to-riches strategy game inventor, a once-busted pot advocate and two peace activists who hawk liberal bumper stickers on the Third Street Promenade are among the16 potential candidates who pulled papers this week to run for three open City Council seats.

The four -- along with a planning commissioner, an education activist, a real estate broker and an event planner, among others -- hope to challenge incumbent Mayor Bob Holbrook and Council members Pam O'Connor and Kevin McKeown in what promises to be a hotly contested race November 7.

Many of the council hopefuls, such as Planning Commissioner Terry O'Day, education activist Gleam Davis, peace activist Jerry Rubin and disabilities activist Pro Se -- are familiar faces around town and hold or have sought public office. Others, including Jenna Linneken, Mark McLellan and Vincent Garafalo, are all joining Santa Monica’s political fray for the first time.

Both O’Day and Davis have been mentioned as strong contenders for what will likely be three endorsements handed out August 6 by Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR), the powerful tenants group that has endorsed Council members McKeown and O’Connor in their previous bids.

Davis picked up a key endorsement early, capturing the backing of the Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS), which successfully pressed the City to carve out at least $6 million a year in funding for the School District and boasts the backing of top civic leaders. (see story)

In addition to seeking the SMRR endorsement, Planning Commissioner O’Day, who is the director for the non-profit, Environment Now, is seeking the backing of Santa Monica’s business community, which hosted a meet and greet for the candidate, who will run on a “message of unity.” (see story)

McKeown, who will be seeking the SMRR endorsement for a third time, was the subject of a pre-campiagn battle that has included two hit pieces mailed by Santa Monicans for Sensible Priorities, a pro-business group largely funded by luxury hotels. The attacks were quickly countered by a phone message to local voters from SMRR co-chair Dennis Zane, who is a former mayor. (see story)

O’Connor, who is also vice chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board, has made three successful runs with the backing of the powerful tenants’ group that has controlled local government for most of the past quarter century.

“I always seek the SMRR endorsement, as I do others,” O’Connor said. But she added, “I will move forward whether I get an endorsement or not.”

While there is a strong filed of candidates vying for the backing of the tenants’ rights group, an opposition slate -- headed by Mayor Bob Holbrook -- has yet to materialize.

“I’m at this point a slate of one,” Holbrook said last week. “I haven’t decided to hook up with anyone. My game plan is to move forward. I’ve already raised some money and put together a fundraising committee.” (see story)

Although Holbrook has often sided with O’Connor on the dais and shares key positions with O’Day, he said he would not run with anyone who seeks the SMRR endorsement. Both O’Day and O’Connor said they would run as independents if they fail to win the SMRR nod.

“If they’re going to SMRR people and asking for their endorsement, they’re running against me,” said Holbrook, who is seeking a fifth council term.

Mark McLellan, a real-estate broker who sells single-family homes in the area, has reportedly approached Holbrook. McLellan, who has lived in Santa Monica since 1999, plans to focus a grassroots campaign on homelessness, traffic and making “homeownership a reality for those that live and work in the city,” he told The Lookout.

Jenna Linneken -- an event planner, former journalist and public relations specialist -- said she is “considering” seeking the backing of Santa Monicans for Sensible Priorities, which is expected to strongly back Holbrook.

Rounding out the list of potential new contenders are Stewart Lamle, Steve Corchado and Vincent Garofalo.

Lamle -- a renter since 1996 -- is the inventor of the game “Farook,” which he describes as the “first high level strategy game since chess.”

The game was the subject of a high-profile patent suit against international toymaker, Mattel. Lamle said he received an undisclosed amount of money from the toy giant in a settlement last year that he described as “huge.”

Lamle -- who has also sued the City over his right to promote the game on the Third Street Promenade -- says he has a unique perspective on what it’s like to have and not have money while living in Santa Monica and wants to work for the poor and homeless.

Another potential candidate who could run as an independent is Steve Corchado, a medicinal marijuana activist who was busted in Santa Monica in 2001 for distributing pot from his home. Corchado said he would work for marijuana reform in the City for those who are truly ill.

“I don’t want to open a clinic next to a dance hall or something,” said Corchado, who, along with his wife, have battled cancer. “We want a clinic next to a hospital in the City.”

So far, he said, his requests to obtain the proper permits have fallen on deaf ears at City Hall. Corchado, who ran a medical dispensary for pot called “Comfort Care Group Inc,” received summary probation – with limited supervision – for a year and half and says he is now clear of the law.

Along with marijuana reform and transforming the Green Party, if elected, Corchado wants to work on homelessness.

Two other newcomers to local politics are Vincent Garofalo, an activist on disability who distributes left-leaning political bumper stickers on the Promenade, and Ted Winterer, a local newspaper columnist and writer.

Winterer, a new dad who is not sure he will run, is considering mounting a grassroots campaign that focuses on growth. He would not seek any endorsements, Winterer said.

Some of those who pulled their papers Monday have made unsuccessful council bids.

Jerry "Peace Activist" Rubin, who like Garofalo passes out politically oriented stickers for a donation, has run twice, while disabilities rights activist Pro Se has run once. Linda Armstrong also ran once before, finishing last in her bid for the council two years ago.

Other potential candidates who have pulled papers are William Davis and John Medlin. They did not return calls from The Lookout.

The City council is not the only race candidates filed for on Monday. Also on the November 7 ballot are races for Rent Control Board, and the School and College boards.

Marilyn Korade-Wilson and Zelia Mollica pulled papers in the race for three open seats on the Rent Control Board.

Incumbents Oscar de la Torre and Emily Bloomfield pulled papers this week for three open seats on the School Board, as did challengers Mary Kelly McMahon Pye, Sadonia Smith and Barry Snell.

Incumbent Nancy Greenstein, along with potential challengers David Finkel (a retired judge who sat on the City Council), Andrew Walzer and Louise Jaffe (an education activist and CEPS leader), pulled papers for four open seats on the College Board.

Candidates have until August 11 to file nomination papers, although the date could be pushed back to the 16th if an incumbent decides not to run. Write-in candidates have until October 24 to file.

Jorge Casuso contributed to this report

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