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Council Not in Rush to Fill Edwards Seat

September 08, 1985|ALAN CITRON | Times Staff Writer

The Santa Monica City Council seat left open by the death of Councilman Ken Edwards almost certainly will be filled by someone affiliated with the All Santa Monica Coalition, but the appointment will not be made until October or November.

Mayor Christine E. Reed said the council will wait at least a month before considering a replacement for Edwards, a former mayor and renters' rights leader who succumbed Aug. 27 after a lengthy battle with liver cancer.

"We are not going to do anything for a while," Reed said. "It seems appropriate for us to have a period of respect for Ken's memory. It's not legally necessary and it doesn't seem right to move with any immediacy."

Reed and other colleagues and friends will honor Edwards at a memorial service scheduled for 3:30 p.m. today at the Greek Amphitheater at Santa Monica High School, 601 Pico Blvd. The service will be led by the Rev. James Conn, minister at the Church in Ocean Park and a council colleague of Edwards.

Election Doubtful

Edwards' seat will remain unoccupied until the City Council passes a resolution declaring it vacant. Reed said the council can fill the seat by appointment or special election, but added that it was doubtful that the council would approve an election because of the expense.

"At some point we have an obligation to declare the seat vacant," Reed said. "Once the declaration occurs, there's a 13-day to 14-day time period during which the council can make an appointment to fill the vacancy." The term expires in 1986.

Edwards, a member of Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights, served on the council for four years and was mayor in 1983 and 1984. He received more votes than any candidate in city history, and was known as a conciliator on a council that was deeply divided over the rent control issue during his tenure as mayor.

Councilman William Jennings, a member of the All Santa Monica Coalition, the organization that holds the council majority, said he had already heard from two people interested in the appointment. Several others have also been mentioned as possible successors at various times.

When Edwards' replacement is named, the coalition will hold five of the seven council seats. Jennings said the group will seek a person who shared some of Edwards' attributes but conceded that it will not look among the ranks of Edwards' fellow tenant activists.

In Search of a Moderate

"It's important to have a moderate person," Jennings said. "It would also be nice to have a renter. . . . I would expect that whoever gets chosen would not be very doctrinaire. But it would have to be someone who would commit to run for reelection in 1986. It wouldn't make any sense to appoint someone who wouldn't run again."

Councilman David Epstein, another coalition member, said he did not want to discuss Edwards' replacement until after the memorial service. But he agreed with Jennings' general description of the proper appointee.

"I tend to agree that we do not want someone who will be a divisive figure," Epstein said. "We want someone who would be a fitting successor to Ken. . . . We want someone with a conciliatory style."

Councilman Herb Katz, the fourth coalition member, was on vacation and is not expected back until early next month.

With Edwards' death, Conn and Dennis Zane are the only two Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights representatives on the council. Conn, who was out of town, could not be reached for comment. Zane agreed with Reed, saying it was improper for any council members to discuss Edwards' replacement so soon.

"Out of respect for the family and concern to provide the community some period of adjustment, I doubt that the council will be entering into any kind of discussions about Ken's replacement for a couple of months," Zane said. "In Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights in particular, we all feel like we've lost a very good friend. It's hurt us and we're looking forward to the opportunity to get together at the memorial service and share our feelings."

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