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Firefighters Endorse Negrete, Melkonians, Tororis for Council

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By Jorge Casuso

September 2, 2022 -- The Santa Monica Firefighters union announced Friday it is backing Councilmember Lana Negrete, Rent Board Commissioner Caroline Torosis and Residocracy founder Armen Melkonians for City Council.

They are the first endorsements by a major political group in the November 8 race for three open Council seats and a signal the Police Officers Association (POA) will likely follow suit.

The choice of Negrete, the only incumbent in the race, comes as no surprise. Since 2020, the City's public safety unions have backed 22 incumbents in the races for 25 Council seats.

"Lana Negrete brings a tremendous amount of energy, intelligence, and creativity to the Santa Monica City Council," said Dom Bei, who heads Santa Monica Firefighters Local 1109.

"As a current council member, she has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the safety of our residents, visitors and workforce.

"Her efforts have only begun, and our city's safety and well being remain in good hands with her on the council," Bei wrote of Negrete, who was appointed to the seven-member Council in June 2021.

Friday's endorsement was a first for Melkonians after being passed up by the City's public safety unions in 2016, when he finished fifth in the race for four Council seats.

"Armen Melkonians has proven his commitment to the city of Santa Monica through years of pro-resident activism," Bei said of the founder of the slow-growth online group.

"As his work has continued, it has become more evident that his efforts are needed on the Santa Monica City Council.

"Armen is committed to prioritizing the needs of the people of Santa Monica, and will work tirelessly to promote public safety and usable spaces for all."

The Lookout was unable to obtain a copy of the union's endorsement statement for Torosis by deadline.

The Council race appears wide open after two incumbents -- Mayor Sue Himmelrich and Councilmember Kristin McCowan -- announced they would not run for re-election.

The 2020 Council race was the first time the Firefighters union made an endorsement independent of the POA, which sat out the election after coming under fire for the police response to the May 31 Santa Monica riots.

In the 2020 race for four open seats, the Firefighters' union hedged its bets by backing five candidates -- only to see two of the endorsed incumbents fall during a voter revolt ("Santa Monica Voters Usher in New Era," November 6, 2020).

But it was the union's staunch backing that contributed to the election of challenger Christine Parra, who is in charge of emergency response for Culver City and was a newcomer to Santa Monica politics.

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