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Police, Fire Unions Endorse Incumbents  

By Jonathan Friedman
Lookout Staff

September 17, 2010 -- The five incumbents in this year’s City Council races have received the backing of the Santa Monica Police Officers Association (POA). With lots of influence and money, the union owns the most significant endorsement, political observers say. The Santa Monica Firefighters Local 1109 also chose to support the incumbents. The two groups issued a joint press release on Thursday.

Bob Holbrook, Pam O’Connor and Kevin McKeown received the endorsements for the race for the four-year terms. Gleam Davis and Terry O’Day earned the backing in the two-year competition.

“The Santa Monica POA and Santa Monica Fire 1109 are impressed by theses candidates support for public safety,” the release stated. “Their voting record has assisted police and fire in obtaining and maintaining the tools and personnel that allows us to keep the community safe and provide quality service. Their commitment to public safety has been unwavering.”

The release mentioned the council’s decision in June not to cut two police officer positions as originally proposed for the 2010-11 budget as evidence of the incumbents’ dedication to public safety. It also noted that they were committed to bringing back the Fire Communications 911 Center to Santa Monica.

The unions also endorsed Measure Y, the half-cent sales tax proposal, as well as Measure YY, the advisory measure that encourages the council to dedicate half the money generated from the tax to the school district.

“Passage of these measures will ensure that public safety will maintain its high level of quality service that residents of Santa Monica deserve,” the release stated. “In addition, our schools will maintain their high quality of service to the community and students.”

The POA has accumulated a war chest of more than $71,000 as of June 30, according to a campaign disclosure statement. The fire union has $18,000.

Traditionally, the POA has backed candidates from rival factions and based its endorsements not only on a candidate’s position on public safety, but also on the person’s chance of winning, political observers say.

Several endorsements have come out recently. On Wednesday, the Santa Monica Democratic Club voted to support McKeown, O’Connor and Planning Commissioner Ted Winterer in the four-year race as well as Davis and O’Day in the two-year contest. See: Democratic Club Makes Same Endorsements as SMRR, September 16, 2010.

The Los Angeles County Democratic Party was in line with the local Democrats for its endorsements for the four-year race. But in the two-year competition, the County party only backed Davis. It did not make a decision on the second two-year seat.

For the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s Board of Education competition for four seats, the County party backed incumbents Oscar De La Torre and Ralph Mechur as well as challengers Laurie Lieberman and Nimish Patel. The Santa Monica Democrats had made nearly the same picks, except incumbent Barry Snell was chosen rather than Patel.

The Los Angeles County League of Conservation Voters, an environmental group, last week backed McKeown, O’Connor, Winterer, Davis and O’Day. The Sierra Club will interview candidates on Sunday prior to making its selections.


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