Santa Monica City Councilman David B. Finkel, who at one point in the campaign for Municipal Court judge was labeled as the "handpicked" candidate of controversial Santa Monica City Atty. Robert M. Myers, joined Myers in the winner's circle this week.
Finkel, 58, captured 53.6% of Tuesday's vote, compared to 46.4% for Santa Monica College Trustee James M. Bambrick. Bambrick, a civil litigator, had been the top vote-getter among four candidates in the June primary.
Finkel, a labor and civil lawyer, attributed his victory to a large voter turnout by tenants in this election, and a concerted door-to-door campaign effort in residential neighborhoods north of Montana Avenue, where he has not done well in past elections.
"I think I got some votes up there that I would not have gotten before," he said.
Finkel, who stepped down from the council after one term to run for judge, also apparently benefited by the strong showing of other candidates and issues backed by Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights, the tenants political organization.
Bambrick at one point in the campaign tried to tie Finkel to Myers, who was the target of a ballot measure that proposed making the city attorney an elected position rather than one appointed by the City Council.
But that may have backfired. The ballot measure, Proposition Y, was rejected, and Finkel may have picked up votes instead of losing them over the matter.
Bambrick was gracious in defeat.
"I called David this morning and wished him a happy career," Bambrick said Wednesday. "We had a nice campaign. It was a rewarding experience."
During the campaign there was some concern that Finkel would favor tenants in rent control matters that would come before him as judge. But Finkel reaffirmed his commitment to be fair.
"I will provide a level playing field," he said. "I don't think tenants want an advocate on the bench. They just want someone who is going to be fair."
Finkel said that he has thought about becoming a judge since about 1981, when he was appointed to the city Rent Control Board.
"Sitting on that quasi-judicial board I realized that I was good at it," he said. "I knew then that I wanted to be a judge. I think that with my personality and nature the judiciary is a better role for me to play in the community."