Ushers in Campaign Season
By Jorge Casuso
July 1 -- There’s two weeks left before local candidates
can officially throw their hats into the ring, but the race for
four open City Council seats kicked off Monday with the first fundraiser
of the election season.
Council member Richard Bloom celebrated his birthday and the launching
of his campaign by holding a party at Santa Monica Art Studios that
brought out some of the City’s top civic and business leaders
from different sides of the political fence.
“Those who have gathered today represent many facets of our
community. . . and I hope you agree with me that this is more than
symbolic,” Bloom wrote in a prepared speech he did not have
the chance to deliver.
“By working together on common goals, by overcoming disagreement,
we are making Santa Monica a better and better place,” Bloom
The campaign donors – who included major developers and their
representatives – were a far cry from the rag tag army of
hotel workers and renters’ rights activists that first put
Bloom on the council in a hotly contested special election in April
|(Above from left)
Council members Ken Genser, Kevin McKeown, Richard Bloom and
Pam O'Connor after Bloom's April 1999 victory gives SMRR super
majority on council. (Right) Bloom surrounded by supporters.
Nine years ago, the Sunset Park homeowner vowed to protect tenants
from eviction as rents were rising under a new state law and to
stop rampant development he believed was snarling the city with
On Monday Bloom vowed to continue championing new affordable housing,
noting that during his tenure 1,000 affordable units have been built,
“helping to assure economic assistance to those in need and
community diversity as rents become more and more affordable.”
As for development, Bloom reiterated his support for the City’s
plan to strategically place -- but not cap -- development and encourage
alternate forms of transportation to tackle a traffic problem that
has only grown worse over the past decade.
The update to the City’s Land Use and Circulation Element
(LUCE), Bloom said, would “enhance the neighborhood feel that
Santa Monica has while at the same time attacking traffic by offsetting
existing and new car trips with a range of innovative and comprehensive
Charts Path to Fight Traffic Congestion,” June 19, 2008)
Bloom -- who has served as mayor or mayor pro tem for five of his
nine years on the council – says he has not grown tired of
a seat he briefly considered giving up four years ago.
“I really love doing this work, and I’ll serve as long
as people want me to stay,” Bloom told The Lookout.
Bloom is not the only incumbent planning to run for reelection.
Mayor Herb Katz, who has served 12 years on the council, is expected
to run, as is Ken Genser, the longest standing council member, having
served 20 years.
It is unclear if Council member Bobby Shriver, who was elected
in a landslide four years ago, will seek to keep his seat.
Bloom lost his first two bids, the second in 1998 by just 92 votes
to Council member Bob Holbrook, before he was elected in April 1999
to fill the seat vacated in mid-term by former Council member Asha
His first successful bid was bolstered by a coalition forged between
the hotel unions and SMRR in a historic battle to approve a pioneering
living wage law that was the nation’s first to cover businesses
with no direct financial ties to city government.
Bloom joined the SMRR majority in voting for the measure, but it
was defeated in 2002 when opponents placed a referendum on the ballot
and spent a record amount of money in a bitterly contested campaign.
On Monday, some of the biggest foes of the living wage measure
Bloom had championed, including Chamber of Commerce President Tom
Larmore, attended the fundraiser, an indication of how much Santa
Monica’s political landscape has changed in less than a decade.
When he was first sworn in in 1999, giving Santa Monicans for Renters’
Rights a five member super majority on the seven-member council,
Bloom was greeted by 150 clapping and whistling supporters.
"The council will face a multitude of decisions," Bloom
said after assuming his seat on the dais. "To me it all boils
down to one thing -- what kind of Santa Monica will we preserve
for our children and grandchildren."
It was a question he asked once again in the written speech he
planned to deliver Monday.