Losing an election is never easy, nor is the timing ever right, particularly for a longtime politician.
But former Santa Monica City Councilwoman Christine E. Reed--who last month lost her bid for a fifth term--is making the best of it.
Since the Nov. 6 city election, she has been able to catch up on some family matters.
She rushed around town running errands for the holidays, she attended her son's high school basketball games and she spent time with Jason, her husband of 20 years.
Granted, part of the time spent with her husband has been to care for him and a back ailment that has forced him to stay home from work. Still, they have spent more time together during the past two months than they have in a long time.
"Chris has cooked dinner every night since Thanksgiving," said Reed's husband, who is not used to such luxuries. He is executive director of Associated Students UCLA, the private organization that runs most of the student services on the Westwood campus, including the student union.
The demands of meetings and constituents during her 15-year tenure on the City Council left little time for those kinds of activities.
Having Reed at home more often is not necessarily good for Reed's 14-year-old son, Tim, a ninth-grader at Crossroads School.
"Before the election, when he realized there was a possibility that I would not be reelected, he was really bummed out by the idea because he knew I would be home more," she said. "He is 14, you know."
"She gets on my case sometimes about doing my homework," Tim said sheepishly.
Reed's other child, Peggy, 18, left for Europe two days after the election when there was still hope that Reed would win because a few thousand absentee ballots remained uncounted. Reed said her daughter, who will be in Europe until March, now knows that Reed lost the election, but the change will probably have less of an effect on Peggy because she will be attending college in the fall and will not be at home much.
But although the last two months have allowed Reed's family some time together, they all know that it is not likely to last.
"I think it is great in the short run, but it's not what Chris wants to do," said Reed's husband. "So it's not good for the long run."
Reed said in a recent interview that she is not sure what she'll be doing. However, she is not likely to run again for the City Council.
"It's not in my thinking at the moment," she said, as she sipped a cup of tea. "I am a forward-looking person . . . . I also like learning. If I am going to do something in public service then, for me, it ought to be something new. I hope to be involved in some public policy that touches on issues dealing with transportation or the environment."
Reed said she has filed an application with the governor's office for an appointment to a state board or commission dealing with transportation or environmental issues.
But Reed said she is not interested in following the path of many ex-politicians: consulting.
"All my friends are telling me I should be a consultant, but you know, it's not something that interests me," Reed said. "I don't feel like I need to go out and make piles of money. Being a consultant is . . . like . . . so sleazy."
Meanwhile, she said she would like to get her front yard garden back in shape, and she has six years of photographs to put in photo albums.
Former colleagues--both political friends and foes--say Reed's intelligence and experience will be missed.
Santa Monica Mayor Judy Abdo, who was often on the opposite side of political issues from Reed, said she and the city will feel the loss of Reed.
"It will be difficult being the only woman on the council," said Abdo, who is in the middle of her first four-year council term. "We gave each other support as women."
Abdo is a leader in the tenants political group Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights, which had targeted Reed for defeat. But Abdo said she voted for Reed in the balloting for three City Council seats last month. Reed finished fourth in a field of nine candidates.
"I had hoped Chris would be reelected," Abdo said. "Because of her history in the city, and her very quick mind, she had solutions to problems very quickly. Her involvement in regional issues was critical to the city, in such issues as light rail and the environment. Her participation in those boards can't be replaced, at least not for years."
Jacki Bacharach, mayor pro tem of Rancho Palos Verdes and a longtime colleague of Reed on many of those regional boards, said Reed was a major force on such agencies as the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission and the Southern California Assn. of Governments.
"It's going to be a real loss for all those agencies," Bacharach said. "One of her great qualities is that she is able to see the interconnection between all those agencies. She has a lot of common sense."