By Nick Antonicello
It is no small feat for a band of community volunteers seeking real political change to spend months in the streets of CD-11 gathering signatures to the tune of nearly 40,000 to topple an embedded, two-term downtown insider who has failed the residents when it comes to rampant homelessness, increased street encampments, rising crime and a notion that somehow wrong is now right, and right is now wrong.
Locals here in Venice seeking signatures door-to-door, or manning tables at venues like the Post Office, RALPHS, WHOLE FOODS, GOLD’S GYM, the Venice Pier or Oceanfront Walk in this organic movement to remove Mike Bonin from the LA City Council took a major step towards victory with an impressive stockpile of signatures all over Bonin’s council domain.
For this rag tag army of Venetians who were mocked and discounted did what was considered the impossible, and that is you can fight City Hall and win!
For the fact that “Recall Bonin 2021” was able to gather this amount of signatures during a pandemic is not only impressive, but a tribute to the sage leadership of Nico Ruderman and Katrina Schmitt, who were vilified by the Bonin forces with the kind of ugly politics and sleazy campaign tactics that in the end backfired, and only motivated the recall forces to work that much harder and send a clear and concise message to every elected official here in Los Angeles, and that is at the end of the day it’s the people that matter, and the professional political class is beholden to the people!
For a political explosion of sorts happened last week when every politico was put on notice that if they ignore their constituents, this predicament can happen to them too!
And while securing these signatures was indeed a knockdown blow of Mike Bonin, it is just the beginning of a longer protracted battle that will take dollars, discipline and determination to actually remove him from office.
Sources say the LA City Clerk’s Office has some thirty people already assigned to the signature verification process and that the time frame to verify the final signature count should be sometime after the Thanksgiving holiday and some believe could be as early as the first week of December.
Once the signature verification process is complete, then it will be up to the Clerk’s Office to set a special election for the remainder of Bonin’s current term.
Assuming enough signatures have been collected given the fact there is a buffer of roughly 13,000 (27,000 is needed to spur the special election), the Clerk’s Office will set an election and candidates will have the opportunity to file for this unexpired term. Unlike the statewide recall, if the question is successful and voters toss Bonin, one candidate must receive 50% plus one or there could be yet another election between the two top finishers to assume the Bonin vacancy (Bonin’s name cannot appear as a candidate, the same applied to Gavin Newsom in the state recall).
The potential of two special elections is real, to say nothing of the impending June Primary and November General Election for the upcoming four-year term of office.
Keep in mind Bonin was elected in 2013, reelected in 2017 and then given an additional 18 months, or $500,000 in salary and benefits when LA decided to move the municipal elections to even years coinciding with federal elections such as President, US Senate and the House of Representatives.
And we already have two announced candidates in Traci Park (www.tracipark.com) of Venice and Allison Holdorff-Polhill of the Palisades, with a new face emerging last week in Mar Vista restauranteur/entrepreneur Demetrios Mavromichalis, the founder of ENVISION LA (www.envisionla.org) as well as NOURISH LA, both not-for-profit organizations that are dedicated to educating residents on local government and public policy while the other has been an active Sunday drive-in food bank that feeds thousands of LA residents who seek bread, fruit, vegetables and other items they could no longer purchase due to the economic downturn and COVID-19.
Mavromichalis made it known last week his intention to seek the Bonin council seat should the recall effort prevail on the popular daytime radio program, The John & Ken Show, 640-AM.
The first-time hopeful said his goals and objectives are simple and to the point: remove the homeless encampments districtwide, support the public safety efforts of the LAPD and LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva and protect the community values of neighborhoods like Venice, the Palisades and Mar Vista from the failed policies of this controversial incumbent seemingly out of touch and in too long.
And while this organic, grass roots movement for change is brewing throughout the district, many believe Team Bonin will use any means necessary to stop the recall in its tracks and some believe a legal fight is looming to prevent the recall from ever making it to the ballot.
And can Mike Bonin really continue to label his constituents “NIMBY” while his not-for-profit allies in Venice believe our residents are “segregationists,” intolerant of homelessness when in fact Venice hosts and occupies more unhoused individuals than anywhere in Los Angeles with the exception of Skid Row?
Reading Bonin’s TWITTER rants last week, it’s hard to believe this massive signature drive isn’t a reality check for an elected official clearly on the ropes and hanging on by a political thread!
For the toothpaste is finally out of the tube and the barn door has been left wide open.
Mike Bonin’s political career is at-risk and his council seat is indeed vulnerable.
And there could be many others with political ambition who just might take a second look at this council seat given the circumstances that Bonin’s base is eroding and his phony narrative that this recall was some conservative ploy rather than what it really is and that’s a local neighborhood revolt of miscontent and complete lack of confidence in an elected official who does not listen and apparently will not learn from his mistakes and primary miscalculation that the people don’t matter.
The author is a member of the Oceanfront Walk and Outreach Committee of the Venice Neighborhood Council (www.venicenc.org) and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 621-3775.