13 Candidates File for 4 Santa Monica Council Seats

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Times Staff Writer

A surfer, two attorneys, a real estate broker and two incumbents are part of a crowded field of 13 candidates who have filed for four seats on the Santa Monica City Council.

If everyone qualifies, first-timers will compete alongside seasoned city politicos in a race where issues such as slow growth are certain to dominate.

All people who hope to run for a seat on the 7-member council in the Nov. 8 election had until Wednesday at 5 p.m. to file their papers, including 100 signatures of registered voters, with the City Clerk’s office. The signatures must be verified before the ballot is drawn up.


Seeks Mayor’s Seat

The city’s principal political faction, Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, is putting forth a slate of four candidates chosen at a convention last month, including incumbent Dennis Zane.

Zane, who said he plans to wave high the slow-growth banner in this election, hopes to succeed his fellow party member James Conn in the mayor’s chair. Conn and Councilman Alan Katz, the lone independent on the council, have chosen not to run in November’s race.

The four open seats and the withdrawals by two incumbents have inspired the highest number of people to try to enter the race since 1979, when 14 candidates competed for three seats. In 1977, 15 people fought for four seats.

Joining Zane’s ticket are long-time community activists Judy Abdo and Paul Rosenstein and the co-chairman of Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, Ken Genser. All vow to defend rent control and put a stop to what they see as over-development.

So far, the other faction that has shared control of city politics for most of the decade, the moderate All Santa Monica Coalition, has not re-emerged.

Incumbent Herb Katz, elected to the council in 1984 as an All Santa Monica Coalition candidate, reiterated last week that he is running independently this year.


“I’m a firm believer that this is what should happen. The number of candidates is very healthy, and it says they want to be looked at as individuals,” said Katz (no relation to Alan Katz). “This town is a little tired of slates.”

However, campaigning individually against the four-member SMRR slate may be difficult, and it is considered likely that some of Katz’s supporters may eventually combine campaign efforts with support for other candidates.

“Unless you are on a slate, you just don’t get credibility from (the press), nor are you able to raise the resources,” said Alan Katz, an opponent of slate politics.

Candidates who share some of Herb Katz’s support base appear to be William Zev Spiegel, an insurance claims adjuster long involved in Democratic Party activities, and Donna Alvarez, a retired insurance company executive and homeowner from the Pico neighborhood.

Dominance Ending

Spiegel, a seven-year resident of Santa Monica, said the dominance of slates may be breaking up, giving new candidates a chance. He said that he would not oppose all new development but that it must be carefully examined.

“I’m concerned about the Miami-beachization of our coast,” he said.

Alvarez, who is a landlady, said her support would likely come from homeowners. She pointed out that the Pico area has never had a council representative.


No blacks or Latinos filed for the race.

The race has attracted some single-issue candidates, some relative unknowns and some who have never before dabbled in city politics.

Thomas A. Routson, a surfer and night manager at the Bel-Air Hotel, said he is protesting the pollution of Santa Monica Bay.

Disturbed by Sewage

Routson, 28, said he was born at St. John’s Hospital, learned to surf near the Pico-Kentor storm drain and is disturbed by sewage being dumped into the bay, which he claims the City Council has failed to stop.

David Ganezer, 28, an attorney, said he was inspired to run because of a recent Planning Commission vote to allow a three-story condominium to be built next to his home. He charged that the commission reversed an earlier denial of the condo permit after the builder exerted improper influence.

“Decisions in this city shouldn’t be based on who knows whom,” Ganezer said. “We need public hearings that are not just window dressing.”

Wayne L. Black, a personal-injury lawyer and five-year tenant in Santa Monica, said he wants to “fight for the little guy.” He wants more affordable housing built in the city, more police patrols in crime areas and better-enforced rent control.


Dropped the Ball

Richard N. Orton, a catalogue production manager, is a former member of Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights who said some leaders of that organization have dropped the ball on slow growth.

“Neighbors should be allowed to call the shots in neighborhoods,” he said. Orton has been most active in the Ocean Park area where he lives and in projects related to Main Street.

Ron Rocco, a real estate broker with a firm in Venice, is a landlord who criticized city government for allowing “unparalleled construction” to fill the city’s coffers and then using the money to “beat up on small property owners and landlords.”

A 13th candidate, Sharon M. Griffin, 32, who identified herself in filing papers as a teacher and counselor concerned for the homeless, could not be reached for comment last week.

The complete list of candidates, in alphabetical order, is as follows:

Judy Abdo, 44. Candidate for Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, member of its steering committee since 1982 and former co-chair; former executive director of Ocean Park Community Organization; member of the board of Santa Monica Pier Restoration Corp. Abdo is West Hollywood City Council deputy to Mayor Helen Albert.

Donna Alvarez, 52. Member of the Pico Neighborhood Assn., Concerned Homeowners of Santa Monica, the Action landlord-advocacy organization. She is a retired insurance company vice president and rents out an eight-unit building.


Wayne Black, 29. Lawyer who offers some free legal services to tenants.

David Ganezer, 28. UCLA law graduate, recently licensed attorney.

Ken Genser, 37. Candidate for Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, of which he is co-chairman; former Planning Commissioner member; director of Santa Monica Pier Restoration Corp.; co-founder of Community Corp. of Santa Monica. A youth hostel facilities coordinator.

Sharon M. Griffin, 32. Teacher, counselor, UCLA graduate.

Herb Katz, 57. Incumbent; mayor pro tempore; Pier Restoration Corp.; former member of the Planning Commission, former member of the Architectural Review Board. Katz is an architect.

Richard N. Orton, 41. Former member of Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights; worked on Main Street Plan group. Production manager for advertising catalogues.

Ron Rocco, 35. Real estate broker, landlord, single parent.

Paul Rosenstein, 45. Candidate for Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, member steering committee; a founder and past president of Mid-City Neighbors; a founder of the Neighborhood Support Center. Rosenstein is an electrician.

Thomas A. Routson, 28. Santa Monica native; Sierra Club; Heal the Bay. Night manager at the Bel-Air Hotel.

William Zev Spiegel, 27. Social Services Commission; past president of the New Deal Democratic Club; represents the 44th District on the Los Angeles County Democratic Central Committee. Spiegel is an insurance claims adjuster.


Dennis Zane, 40. Incumbent; candidate for Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, which he co-founded. Math teacher.