Logo horizontal ruler


Bloom 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 wrote.

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 1999.

(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 traffic.

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 strategies.” (“City 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 Greenberg.

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.



"To me it all boils down to one thing -- what kind of Santa Monica will we preserve for our children and grand-children." Richard Bloom




Lookout Logo footer image
Copyright 1999-2008 surfsantamonica.com. All Rights Reserved.
Footer Email icon