On Tuesday evening, Santa Monica Mayor Sue Himmelrich and Mayor Pro Tem Kristin McCowan exited the stage from their service on the Santa Monica City Council, before all newly elected and reelected members of various bodies of Santa Monica-Malibu city and school governance were sworn in.
The meeting began with ceremony and commendations, with kind words for the two outgoing leaders being made by representatives of State Senator Ben Allen, Congressman Ted Lieu, and certificates given by United States Senator Alex Padilla. Fellow councilmembers then also took turns saying goodbye with praise. There were even parting gifts, as Councilmember Gleam Davis presented Himmelrich and McCowan with large replicas of gold and blue Santa Monica street signs, each with their names on them in reflective white.
Himmelrich and McCowan themselves then made parting remarks. McCowan, somewhat emotional, said, “To the community of Santa Monica, thank you. Thank you for your trust and faith in me and the opportunity to serve. To the city staff, I just want to say thank you for being – and I’ve only worked in two cities – the most exceptional city staff; the most professional that I’ve had the opportunity to work with.” After wondering aloud if it’s harder to leave by choice, like she is [or presumably through losing an election], she said, “My family is bar far the most important thing to me.” She also congratulated the incoming councilmembers and said, “I hope you all take good care of this city.”
“I am leaving the dais after eight roller-coaster years hopefully in a more stable place than when I took office as mayor two years ago,” began Himmelrich. “My special thanks are to all of the people of Santa Monica who have really supported me through the good times and the bad times.” She also expressed appreciation to the public for supporting her crowning achievement, Measure GS on the 2022 ballot. The Measure passed with 53 percent of the vote and will mean tens of millions of dollars will be raised to address homelessness, affordable housing development, and school funding. As she grew more emotional, she thanked the people in her personal life, her daughters and her husband, Michael Soloff.
The current council then heard from the city clerk on the final election results and voted to certify the election. She then swore in new members of all four elective bodies:
- The Santa Monica-Malibu College Board of Directors
- The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board
- The Santa Monica Rent Control Board
- The Santa Monica City Council
The newly sat body, which included new councilmembers Caroline Torosis, this year’s top vote getter, and Jesse Zwick, who finished second. The new council then took motions for Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem, for which councilmembers were a bit shy to nominate at first. But then, after some clarification on habit and precedent from the city clerk and city attorney, Councilmember Nicole Parra nominated Councilmember Phil Brock to be Mayor for 2023, with Councilmember Oscar de la Torre as Mayor for 2024, and Councilmember Lana Negrete to serve as Mayor Pro Tem both years.
New Councilmember Caroline Torosis then proposed as substitute motion for Councilmember Gleam Davis to serve as mayor in 2023 with Negrete serving as Mayor pro tem, with the two women switching roles for 2024. It was voted down, taking the motion back to Parra’s original. Torosis again tried for a substitute motion that would have allowed Brock Mayor Pro Tem in year two. It was also voted down. Torosis then tried again, proposing Davis as Mayor in 2023, with Brock as Mayor in 2024, and Negrete as Mayor Pro Tem for both years. It passed, 4-3, with Torosis, Zwick, Davis, and Negrete voting yes. Brock, Parra, and de la Torre all voted no and seemed a bit stunned. Brock voted against his waiting just one year to be Mayor in 2024.
The newly aligned council then switched some seats. Newly selected Mayor Gleam Davis, addressing the crowd, said, “I’m elated to have the opportunity to serve Santa Monica once again as mayor. As the most tenured member of the Council, I hope to use my experience to lead us through the transformative process of rebuilding our organization and bringing the community together. There’s a lot to do to advance our priorities around homelessness, a safe and clean community, and an equitable economic recovery. I’m ready to get to work with my colleagues who love Santa Monica as much as I do.” Newly elected members also made opening remarks. That concluded the night’s activities.
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