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Council Candidate Pool Seeking Liberal Establishment Backing Grows


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By Jorge Casuso

May 28, 2024 -- A potential slate of City Council candidates seeking the backing of Santa Monica's liberal establishment is taking shape early this election year, with a major player joining the list on Tuesday.

In an anticipated move, Barry Snell, a Santa Monica College Trustee and member of the Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. (DTSM) board, officially announced he would run for one of four open Council seats.

He became the sixth candidate vying for the backing of the City's liberal establishment in what promises to be a heated race that will determine the balance of power on the seven-member Council.

“I am running for City Council to keep Santa Monica affordable for everyone, protect renters, and restore public safety,” Snell said in a statement.

“As a small business owner, certified public accountant, and Santa Monica Community College Trustee, I have the experience and record of real results our city needs.”

Snell, who has served on the School Board, the California State Board of Trustees and the Pier Corporation Board, joins fellow DTSM board member Ericka Lesley, who chairs Santa Monica’s Rent Control Board.

Also vying for the support of the Santa Monica Democratic Club, Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights (SMRR) and the hotel workers union are two candidates who ran for Council in 2022 -- Ellis Raskin and Natalya Zernitskaya.

Raskin, who chairs the Planning Commission, and Zernitskaya, who served on the City's Audit Subcommittee, split the liberal establishment's backing two years ago.

In a highly unusual move, the Democratic Club, broke ranks in 2022 by endorsing Zernitskaya, instead of Raskin, after he had won the support of SMRR and Unite HERE Local 11 ("Dem Club Membership Breaks with Tradition in 'Surprising Upset,'" September 30, 2022).

Also throwing his hat into the ring is Pier Corporation Board member Dan Hall, who announced his candidacy in mid-March, and Marcus Owens, a newcomer to Santa Monica politics.

The Democratic Club this week posted interviews and questionnaires for the six Council hopefuls on its website.

The liberal establishment slate will field four challengers after Councilmember Glean Davis, who has served on the Council since 2009, confirmed longstanding rumors that she will not seek reelection.

Incumbent Mayor Phil Brock and Couuncilmember Oscar de la Torre, who are members of the Council's "Change" faction -- which holds a slim one-vote majority -- have said they will seek second terms.

The Change faction, which was swept into office on a public safety platform in 2020, has counted on the support of Councilmember Lana Negrete, who was elected two years later after being appointed to an open council seat.

Change faction member Christime Parra has not announced whether she plans to run for re-election, but widespread speculation is that she will not seek a second term.

The nomination period for City Council takes place from July 15 to August 19 and will be extended to August 24 if an incumbent does not file.

The LA County Registrar will begin mailing Vote by Mail ballots to voters on October 7. The last day to register to vote is October 21. Election Day is November 5.

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