After three years covering all things Santa Monica exclusively for the city’s oldest news website, The Lookout, I have decided to join the Santa Monica Next team.

Photo: Richard McKinnon
Photo: Richard McKinnon

My decision to do so, while I didn’t come by it easily, was rather simple: I believe in what Santa Monica Next is doing and I want to help.

Over the last three years, I have gained invaluable experience both as a reporter in general and with Santa Monica specifically, thanks in large part to the many thoughtful people I have had the pleasure of engaging with almost daily in my work.

Santa Monica is complicated, for lack of a better word, and over the last three years, I have tussled with – sometimes more elegantly than others – the many nuanced issues this unique seaside city is facing.

Increasingly, I see Santa Monica’s future becoming a battleground. Too often, the debates around the many changes facing Santa Monica are reduced to talking points that belie just how intricate the topics being discussed really are. It is very un-Santa Monica.

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When people talk about land-use politics, transit and development in Santa Monica, they are talking about how many people should be able to live and work here. They are talking about whether or not Santa Monica’s social programs and schools get funding. They are talking about what role Santa Monica plays in an increasingly interconnected region.

More than any other city in which I’ve lived or worked, I consider Santa Monica my home town. I went to the schools here, which is, in large part, why I became the first in my family to go to college. I held my first job here, working as a receptionist in the same salon where my mom cut hair on Ocean Park Boulevard.

A lot of who I am and the opportunities I have had, I owe to this city, which is full of people who believe in investing in future generations. I want to assure that those opportunities are available to my peers and those who will live here after we are gone.

That’s why, when I heard that Santa Monica Next wanted to start a Vote Local campaign, I decided I had to be a part of it.

It has always been a part of Santa Monica’s culture that people should take an active role in shaping civic life. But, growing up here, I also learned that it’s not enough for people simply to be engaged in their local government.

They must also be informed.

As part of the Santa Monica Next team, I am excited to not only help engage the more denizens of the city by the sea, but also to make sure that when they go to the ballot box in November, they do so with a truly deep understanding of the decisions they make and the impact those decision have on the city and the region as a whole.

Because that’s what the Santa Monica, where I grew up, is all about.