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Bobby Shriver elected mayor of Santa Monica

May 26, 2010 |  4:15 pm
It all started with John Francis “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald, the Irish American politico who served two terms as mayor of Boston in the early 1900s. A century later, his great-grandson Bobby Shriver has been selected mayor of another well-known coastal community: Santa Monica.

In between those generations lies a dazzling chunk of political history. Honey Fitz’s daughter Rose married Joseph P. Kennedy, the son of her father’s rival Patrick J. Kennedy. Rose and Joseph Kennedy begot John Fitzgerald Kennedy (Honey Fitz’s beloved namesake), who became president of the United States; Edward M. “Ted” and Robert F. “Bobby” Kennedy, who became U.S. senators; and Eunice, mother of Bobby and Maria Shriver. Maria’s husband is California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

At the Santa Monica City Council meeting Tuesday, Bobby Shriver, 56, was appointed mayor on a 4 to 3 vote. He replaced Mayor Pro Tem Pam O’Connor, who had assumed the mayoral duties after Ken Genser, then mayor, became ill in October and remained in the role after Genser's death in January.

Shriver’s term will run through November, when five of seven council members (not including Shriver) will be up for reelection. At the first council meeting after that election, another vote for mayor will be taken.

Shriver was first elected to the council in 2004 after fighting City Hall over the regulation of hedge heights. He was the top vote-getter in that election and handily won reelection in 2008. He had some firepower behind him during his 2004 campaign: his late mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, and his late uncle, Ted Kennedy.

In an interview Wednesday, Shriver acknowledged the humor in the situation.

“When Teddy was out campaigning for me, he said: ‘Let’s think about it, Eunice. [Boston] mayor, senators, president, Santa Monica City Council,’ ” Shriver recalled. “I’m sorry he’s not going to be around this summer to call me Your Honor.”

Shriver said he plans as mayor to continue his effort to free up unoccupied buildings on the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs campus as housing for homeless veterans. Overall, he quipped, his goal “is to be as good as Honey Fitz.”

A historical note: According to American Heritage magazine, Honey Fitz’s first term as mayor was infamous for its corruption and graft, and he was voted out in 1907. He ran again in 1909 and narrowly beat his opponent. Known for singing “Sweet Adeline” on the hustings, he proved immensely popular during his second term. He also inaugurated the banned-in-Boston tradition by forbidding the turkey trot and the tango as immoral.

-- Martha Groves

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times