About Michael Feinstein

Michael Feinstein is a former City Councilmember and Mayor of Santa Monica. He served on the City Council for two four-year terms between 1996 and 2004, and as Mayor from 2000-2002.

Born in Athens, Greece, Feinstein was adopted by American parents and brought back to the United States when he was four months old. Raised in St. Louis Park, MN (a suburb of Minneapolis), he graduated from St. Louis Park High School in 1977, then majored in philosophy and received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1982 from Carleton College in Northfield, MN.

In between his second and third years at Carleton, Feinstein took a year off and backpacked in 15 countries in Latin America, Southern Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East.  That started a patten continuing to this day, with Feinstein having traveled in over 45 countriesgaining knowledge and openness to possibilities as he’s learned about different cultures and places all over the world.

Feinstein also served as the first California sales representative for Rollerblades in the early to mid 1980s, having gone to high school in Minnesota with the inventor. That also gave him direct experience in starting a trend, which he applied years later when co-founding the Green Party of California in 1990.

As a primary U.S. Green international delegate, Feinstein has visited Green Parties in multiple, where he has been exposed to various proportional representation voting systems. This has given him a first-hand experience with such improved democracy options that most Americans have never had — and the confidence that they can be implemented here.

Electoral Reform Experience – Initiatives/Propositions

2009 – Statewide Constitutional Reform: Member of Californians for a Constitutional Convention drafting committee convened by the Bay Area Council in San Francisco, that drafted two statewide initiatives regarding constitutional reform, to provide for a comprehensive public review of California elections, and to place suggested electoral reforms before the people.

2002 – Local Electoral Systems: Co-wrote and signed the opposing ballot arguments as Mayor of Santa Monica (1, 2)  and appeared in the televised debate representing the ‘no’ position again local Proposition HH, a plan to split Santa Monica into single-seat, winner-take-all districts with a strong mayor.

1995 – Campaign Finance Reform: Served as part of the campaign finance reform initiative drafting group that led to two iniatitives being placed on the November 1996 general election ballot: Proposition 208 Campaign Contributions and Spending Limits. Restricts Lobbyists. Initiative Statute and Proposition 212 Campaign Contributions and Spending Limits. Repeals Gift and Honoraria Limits. Restricts Lobbyists. Initiative Statute.

Other Electoral Reform Experience

2012 – Wrote the Green Party’s national platform plank supporting the National Popular Vote Act, which was signed into law in California in 2011.

2008-2010 – Consultant for California Political Reform Program of the New America Foundation.

2006 – Devised ranked choice voting elections for the founding meeting of the Asia-Pacific Green Network. Kyoto, Japan. February 2006.

1996-2004Promoted democracy and responsive government while a member of the Santa Monica City Council, including many unique electoral reforms, including a two-day, weekend special election

2001 – Participated in the League of Women Voters Santa Monica “Study of Voting Systems Applicable to Santa Monica’s Non Partisan At Large, Multi-Seat, Multi-Candidate Governing Bodies”, the conclusion of which “The League of Women Voters of Santa Monica supports consideration of alternative voting systems for Santa Monica elections with a special emphasis on the Single Transferable Vote (STV) or Choice system (earlier names for RCV).

1999: Attended and spoke at the Los Angeles Charter Review process.

1997: Co-petitioner in NAACP vs. Jones, a lawsuit against exorbitant ballot pamphlet fees

1996-present: Activist Advisory Board, FairVote.

1994-1996: Studied the New Zealand Royal Commission on the Electoral System process (1986), followed by a national referendum (1993), by which New Zealand amended its constitutions to go to a multi-member system of proportional representation elections to elect its national parliament.

1990-1992: Wrote and published Sixteen Weeks with European Greens: Interviews, Impressions, Platforms and Personalities. 674 pages. R&E Miles, San Pedro, CA (1992). Covered alternative electoral and public financing systems in Europe.

1989 – 1995: Radio co-host, Green Perspectives, KPFK 90.7FM Pacifica radio, Los Angeles. Covered alternative electoral and public financing systems.

1989 – present: As a primary U.S. Green representative to Green Parties worldwide, travelled extensively internationally and met MPs, elections officers and others who have worked in different electoral and public financing systems.

Feinstein served as Mayor of Santa Monica from 2000 to 2002

Experience – Governmental Advisory Commissions, Councils & Task Forces 

• Southern California Regional Comprehensive Plan Task Force, Southern California Association of Governments,
• Growth Visioning Subcommittee/Southern California Compass, Southern California Association of Governments, 2001-2004
• Energy & Environment Committee, Southern California Association of Governments, 1997-2004
• Westside Council of Governments, Santa Monica representative as Mayor, 2000-2002
• Integrated Policy Task Force, Southern California Association of Governments, 2009–2010
• Housing Committee, California League of Cities2001-2002
• U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2002
• ICLEI (International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives), Santa Monica representative, Johannesburg, South Africa (UN World Summit on Sustainable Development, 2002); Athens, Greece (ICLEI Global Congress, 2003)

Electoral Reform Videos 

Feinstein was co-convenor/moderator of the "Call for a California Constitutional Convention?" event, Broad Theatre, Santa Monica, July 2009

Feinstein on electoral reform, US Conference of Mayors. The Week in Review,July 27, 2002

Feinstein advocates electing the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors using ranked-choice-voting, July, 2012

Feinstein debates against Santa Monica Proposition HH. Santa Monica CityTV, October, 2002.

A Vote for Michael Feinstein for Secretary of State
is a Vote for a Democracy Bill of Rights for California