Santa Monica

Councilmember Kevin McKeown


For the last thirty years or so, we in Santa Monica enjoyed the benefits of integrated local governance:  Each of our seven Councilmembers served also as liaison to some of our boards and commissions, where volunteers gave of their time to benefit our community, in mostly advisory capacities.  They always knew their work was heard and appreciated.

At a special Sunday “retreat” held away from City Hall, and neither televised nor recorded for later telecast, the City Council under then-Mayor Bloom ended all Council liaisons.

Click the play arrow above to hear my comments.  Unlike most of my website, this is audio only.  The more I’ve thought about it, the less comfortable I am about the Council taking this action without first asking any of the boards or commissions, and cloaking the change in “legal concerns.”  Our liaison program had never caused any legal problems.

At the same untelevised meeting, the Council discussed the wisdom of having separate elections for Mayor, given that when that choice is made by the Council itself some people with voter support never get to be Mayor.  My vote may have surprised some people. 

Again, my comments are audio only (sorry!).  Click the play arrow to hear them.

I believe that Santa Monica’s electing seven co-equal Councilmembers provides a welcome form of proportional representation, where more points of view can be heard and served than in a single winner-take-all race for Mayor.  The problems with our Mayoral system now are not because of a broken system, requiring a change to the City Charter, but because of the childish behavior of some of the Councilmembers.

I reveal that behavior in this third audio clip from the special untelevised meeting.  I don’t name names, but I do detail the sadly dysfunctional dynamic.

As the Apple technology consultant for our local public schools, I work quite often on our middle school campuses -- what we used to call junior high school.  Some of the behavior I've seen on the Council is quite common in junior high school, but my observation in watching generations of students over the years is that they seem to grow out of it.

The current rules for choosing a Mayor have worked for decades. If they are not working with the current Council, well, the current Council may grow out of it, or someday be replaced by the voters.  Even though it might have benefited me personally to change how Mayors are chosen in Santa Monica, I wasn't willing to change the City Charter.

The perpetuation of "the Mayors' Club" is not a comfortable situation for me.  I now hold the all-time record in City history for longest continuous time served on the City Council without ever having been Mayor -- despite being top vote-getter twice, the last time by the highest percentage of votes in at least the last twenty years.  Given that history, calling for a separately elected Mayor might have seemed like an expedient way out.

Will I ever get to be Mayor of our city?  Stay tuned...