CEPS Candidate Interview Questions – CITY COUNCIL – 2012
Ted Winterer is a current Santa Monica Planning Commissioner and is running for his first term as a member of the City of Santa Monica.
CEPS is grateful that our work to “promote a shared community vision” to support public education has been so strongly supported within our community. What have you done, personally, to show that you are more than a supporter of public schools, and that in these times of adversity, our community can count on you to be a “champion” of public schools?
I served on the campaign committees for Measures A and Y; my memory is a bit hazy on whether I was on the R committee. However, I do recall vividly walking precincts for R and A with my daughter to teach her about civic involvement and the value of funding public education. And I advocated for all three measures at whenever and wherever possible.
I have also served on the district’s committees which recommended the Board place Measures A and ES on the ballot.
I’ve appeared at City Council meetings to advocate for education, including this year’s hearing on the joint use agreement, which yielded a new 10-year contract.
As a Planning Commissioner I have always keep the needs of our schools in mind. In fact, education was added as a potential community benefit in the LUCE alongside social and cultural facilities at my insistence at one of our hearings, as I knew we would want the option of seeking school funding from new development.
At my children’s school SMASH I am an active member of the PTSA and somehow seemed to have taken on the title of head of setup and breakdown for SuperSMASH, our biggest fundraiser of the year, which means committing 14 hours of hard labor to the cause one Saturday every spring.
And I’m on the steering committee of CEPS.
Describe how you feel that excellent public schools benefit a city.
First and foremost, excellent public schools provide the opportunity for every child, no matter their economic status, to receive an education which will provide the tools for success, fulfillment and a lifetime of learning. Those kids grow into adults who then contribute to a city’s community and economic vitality.
Likewise, excellent public schools attract young parents to a city who will lay down roots, be involved and foster prosperity. Finally, quality schools enhance property values and city revenues.
Santa Monica’s City government has a unique relationship with its schools and its education community. Please explain what you think is unique about that role. What is your understanding of ways that the education community and city leadership work together and support each other? What would you do to protect and strengthen that reciprocal role along with the direct funding support that the city provides to the schools?
The city and the district work together in many such as the Y/YY measures and the consequent beneficial increase in revenues to both entities; the joint use agreement which provides sorely needed funds to the schools and access to facilities by the public; and the ill-fated plan to fund facilities improvements at Samo with RDA dollars.
To protect and strengthen that reciprocal role I would strive to continue healthy and productive relationships between school and city officials, as that dialogue and mutual respect has been critical in recent years. As for the direct funding support currently provided by the city to schools, I don’t see it being altered in any way over the next 10 years unless its increased.
State funding cuts to education and local cities are hurting both entities. However, it is safe to say that education has taken the greater hit. What do you know about Propositions 30 & 38 on the November ballot? What is your position on these measures? What is your understanding of the impact on our local public schools should both measures fail?
I know that it’s critical that either the Brown or Munger measures pass this fall or our state will fall into a fiscal black hole, so I support both propositions.
If both measures fail, our schools will face a catastrophic reduction in operating revenues and have to look at unprecedented cuts to deal with a projected annual deficit of $10M.
Should both ballot measures fail, do you feel that the City could have a further role in supporting our schools? If so, what might you propose – and “champion”?
If both measures fail, I would support temporary emergency funding by the City to help close the district’s operating deficit while a new parcel tax and other revenues are being pursued.
Longer terms solutions which took advantages of the City’s much greater ability to raise revenues would then have to be explored.
What is your position on SMMUSD’s bond measure, also on November’s ballot? If you support the measure would you carry that support on your campaign literature?
I served on the Economic Feasibility Committee which recommended the bond measure and was a proponent of the measure in our meetings, so of course I support the bond now that it’s on the ballot.
And I intend to advocate for the bond as much as I can in a busy campaign season and am in fact booked to speak in favor of the bond at NOMA’s September meeting. I’m also willing to carry a piece supporting the bond when my volunteers and I walk precincts this fall.
However, I cannot at this time commit to supporting the bond on my campaign mail until I have a better handle on how much money I am able to raise. If my resources are limited, then they must be devoted 100% to messaging about my candidacy.
Would you support sharing new revenues with local schools and if so, do you have any ideas about how to raise new revenues?
I’d support sharing new revenues, especially if Brown and Munger fail. Ideas include:
A) If Brown doesn’t pass, study the viability of another local sales tax increase.
B) Increase the commercial parking tax from 10% to 15%, which would yield $3.75M per year. A nexus study would likely require those funds be used for circulation improvements, but, to the extent that use reduced pressures on the general fund, monies would then be freed for potential support of schools.
C) Increase the real estate transfer tax.
D) Develop more hotel rooms.
E) Ask for direct support to schools from new development.
Taking a longer view, what other areas of mutual support might you promote between the schools and Santa Monica’s city government?
Since the school district seems congenitally incapable of getting out the message about all its many accomplishments, City Hall should use its extensive PR prowess to tout what’s great about our public schools. For instance, a Seascape article might focus on the benefits to the public of the joint use agreement, explaining how it enables access to facilities that the City would otherwise not have the land and resources to provide. And that article might also artfully include some highlights of district accomplishments.
Such a PR effort by the City should start sooner rather than later to assist in any near-term efforts to raise revenues for education either directly by the district or indirectly by the City.