Murez declines reelection for President, opts for Community Officer instead, 11 incumbents seek another term, 38 vie for 13 Community Officer post, Brian Averill seeks VNC Presidency versus VP Daffodil Tyminski!
By Nick Antonicello
The filing deadline for the Venice Neighborhood Council election has come and gone (www.venicenc.org) with 55 candidates seeking 21 board positions.
Community Officer Nico Ruderman will run unopposed for the position of Communications Officer which is being vacated by Vicki Halliday who is seeking the vice-presidency in partnership with Daffodil Tyminski, who is seeking the presidency. Tyminski, an attorney is the board’s current vice-president
There are 38 candidates seeking 13 positions as community officers which makes up half of the board’s membership and 11 incumbents are seeking reelection.
They include Treasurer Jay Handal, Community Officers Alley Mills Bean, Chie Lunn, local real estate agent CJ Cole, Soledad Ursua, architect Robert Thibodeau, Clark Brown, Jason Sugars and LUPAC Chair incumbent Michael Jensen, Community Interest Officer Bruno Hernandez and Outreach Chair Sima Kostovetsky who is seeking a third term.
Kostovetsky was the overall top vote-getter of any candidate in 2021 garnering some 78% of the vote.
Current VNC President James Murez, a longtime fixture in neighborhood community advocacy is not seeking reelection to a second term after winning a close contest two years ago against Brian Averill, a local photographer who made an impressive run for the presidency in a tight, four-way contest. Murez instead will be one of 38 seeking the post of community officer, a position her previously held. Averill has focused on cleaning up the current conditions at the boardwalk and Oceanfront Walk and presently serves on the Outreach & Oceanfront Committees of the VNC. A strong supporter of new CD-11 Councilwoman Traci Park, Averill is committed to reforming the board’s current dysfunction and inability in many ways to get out of its own way!
Murez’s departure as president is not shocking, as it became apparent his relationship with several board members including Halliday and Tyminski had deteriorated, and the board’s overall productivity had waned.
With COVID-19 and the pandemic playing a role in the board’s overall impact on the neighborhood compounded by its adversarial relationship with former council member Mike Bonin, whose homeless initiatives were wildly unpopular and unproductive with the Venice homeless population and encampments growing and soaring on Bonin’s watch. The plethora of encampments at the beach and the library became symbols of the lack of action and ability for Bonin to get along with these local officials or produce any semblance of progress, even with the installation of bridge housing on Main Street, long an unpopular action by most board members that led to a vote of “no confidence” of Bonin compounded by two unsuccessful recall attempts, largely initiated by Venice locals such as Nico Ruderman and Katrina Schmitt.
The race for LUPC Chair (Land Use & Planning) is between incumbent Michael Jensen and longtime Venetian Gabriel Smith. Jensen sought this position in 2021 and lost a close contest only to be appointed when the incumbent resigned. For the position of Community Interest Officer, incumbent Bruno Hernandez is being challenged by newcomers Melissa Montesi and Noreen Ahmed. In the race for Outreach Chair, Sima Kostovetsky, the popular parent and strong supporter of new council member Traci Park is being challenged by Brian Finneran.
Longtime board secretary Melissa “24-7” Diner is not seeking reelection and veteran Venetian and local activist Yolanda Gonzalez is challenging Tima Bell for the open seat. The position of secretary is a tedious task and the workload is quite extensive for this volunteer, thankless post.
In what will be one of the more competitive contests will be for the position of Vice-President where Communications Officer Vicki Halliday will find herself in a tough battle with the popular and longtime Community Officer Jim Robb, currently the Chairman of the Oceanfront Walk Committee and a well known community resident. Robb, who is in the liquor distribution and sales industry is a close ally of presidential candidate Brian Averill. Halliday, who currently serves on the Homelessness Committee of the VNC chaired by Frank Murphy is a principal with the website www.westsidecurrent.com that was founded by Jaime Paige, now the Communications Deputy for Councilwoman Traci Park. The website was one of Park’s earliest and most enthusiastic supporters.
The race for treasurer will also be an interesting contest as the incumbent, Jay Handal who was appointed to the position is seeking a full term of office.
Handal, who is not a resident of Venice, but a community stakeholder is being challenged by local residents Eric Hartnack and Helen Fallon, a homeowner along the historic Venice Canals. Fallon was expected to run for secretary, but switched gears and filed for treasurer. Fallon is one of the more active community advocates who was a strong supporter of the recall of Mike Bonin along with her husband Bert and both were active volunteers in the campaign of Councilwoman Traci Park. Fallon is an outspoken critic who is a regular voice during the plethora of community committee meetings held in the current ZOOM format. A fiscal conservative who is a strong constructionist of the Board’s BY-LAWS and city guidelines, Fallon is making her second attempt for a seat on the VNC.
The race for president will be a one-on-one affair between two known commodities in Daffodil Tyminski, the current vice-president who ran on the “Common Sense” ticket with Murez in 2021 and Averill, who led a resurgent and reform ticket in which he garnered some 44% of the vote and received over 800 ballots last time around. Tyminski is no stranger to VNC elections as she has both won and lost in previous contests. Tyminski was a numerous 2022 campaign contributor to the CD-11 council campaigns of Mike Newhouse, James Murez and Traci Park, the eventual winner. Tyminski donated to Newhouse in February, Murez in April and Park in late June after she finished second in the June 8thPrimary, qualifying for the November runoff. In each case she donated $800 according to the LA Ethics Commission while Averill was with Park the entire contest and is a avid supporter of the freshman member of the LA City Council. Tyminski also financially supported Marina Torres for LA City Attorney and then switched her support to the eventual winner, Hydee Feldstein Soto.
With Murez out of the race for reelection as VNC head, it will be interesting to see if he will endorse Tyminski who broke from him at least politically speaking, or Averill whom he defeated two years ago.
Averill has since concentrated his efforts on compassionately cleaning up the boardwalk to pre-COVID conditions and has been highly critical of the VNC as a government entity offering other venues and solutions to restoring a sense of community competence. While critical of the current board, he has maintained a presence at the committee level with his membership on both Outreach and Oceanfront Walk contributing his time and efforts in that capacity from a marketing primarily a marketing and media perspective.
Tyminski has focused her efforts with the board’s Neighborhood Committee, where she serves as chairperson.
With just seven incumbents for the position of Community Officer, there are a total of 33 new candidates for this post:
- Lauren Burgess
- Lisa Redmond
- Zack Best
- Eric Alan Donaldson
- Erica Moore (ran for secretary in 2021)
- Evan Corrigan
- Tanisha Saunders
- Taylor Gallion
- Alley Mills Bean*
- Aaron Dozzi
- Amara Iman Hordt
- Hugo Moreno
- Patrick McKinley
- Meredith Gruszka
- Ben Ballentine
- Benjamin Shahahrabani (ran for the same post in 2021)
- Bryan Cook
- Clark Brown*
- Carlos Marin
- Christopher Lee
- Chie Lunn*
- Cristina Rodriguez-Greenberg
- CJ Cole*
- Deborah Keaton
- Dillon Chapman
- Sergio Perez
- Steve Bradbury
- Sarah Page-Le
- Soledad Ursua*
- Robert Thibodeau*
- Ivette Rodriguez
- Graham Sandleski
- Julie Bean
- James Dawson
- Jason Sugars*
- Joseph Garcia
- Jill Crosby
- James Murez (current
Nick Antonicello is a longtime resident of Venice and covers the local political scene. Have a take or tip on all things Venice? Contact Antonicello via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org