Santa Monica Lookout
|Sandra Fluke Wants to Make Political Debut as Santa Monica, Southbay State Senator
When one lives in a city as breathtakingly beautiful and unique as Santa Monica, inevitably that city will be shared with visitors.
By Jason Islas
March 28, 2014 -- Activist and attorney Sandra Fluke was faced with a choice in January when Congressman Henry Waxman announced he would retire after 40 years of representing Santa Monica and West Los Angles in Washington.
Should she enter what promised to be a crowded race to replace the veteran lawmaker? Or, should she try for something more local?
“I looked at (the congressional race) really briefly,” she said.
Those issues, she said, include “things like increasing the minimum wage” and “being able to make forward progress on reproductive justice, on gay rights, on a whole number of progressive issues.”
Fluke gained national attention after she was blocked in 2012 from appearing before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on mandatory coverage of contraceptives by insurers.
While “reproductive justice” has been at the center of much of Fluke’s work over the years, it is only one of many concerns she has about where California is heading.
“We're clearly a district where we care a lot about environmental concerns,” she said, adding that she supports a push by several L.A. City Councilmembers to ban hydraulic fracturing -- a controversial method of extracting natural gas -- in the city.
Making sure that young families have access to affordable housing is also a big concern for Fluke.
If elected, Fluke said she would fight for early childhood education funding.
“Early childhood education is where the investment dollars make the biggest difference,” she said. “It is what's going to close the achievement gap.”
But she said that with the State still recovering from its most recent budget crisis, it’s important to take “a balanced approach” to spending.
“We can't bankrupt the state,” she said. “We do have some debt to pay down. We have a rainy day fund” that can be shored up.
But, “we have to start reinvesting,” she said, adding that emergency social services are first on her list.
Fluke also wants to repeal State legislation that limits the amount of public assistance a woman can receive if she has another child while on welfare.
“If you are going to say that a woman should have the right to decide not to have a child, she needs also to have the right to decide to have a child and to have that not be in any way economically coerced and her decision supported,” she said.
Fluke is one of eight candidates -- seven of whom are Democrats -- currently vying to represent SD 26.
In the June 3 primary election, Fluke will face former State Assembly representative Betsy Butler, who lost her reelection bid in 2012 to former Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom.
Also on the ballot as Democrats in the June primary will be Santa Monica-Malibu School Board member Ben Allen, who was endorsed Sunday by his hometown’s most powerful political organization, Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights. (“Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights Make Key Endorsements Ahead of June Primary,” March 24, 2014)
Manhattan Beach Mayor Amy Howorth; Vito Imbasciani, the top surgeon of the California National Guard; former attorney Barbi Appelquist, and television writer Patric Verrone are also in the running as Democrats.
But Fluke, who has lived in the district on again and off again for the past seven years with her now-husband, thinks that her work as an grass-roots activists makes her uniquely qualified to represent the district.
“I see this as one part of my career and the legacy that I hope for my career overall is that it is one of providing a voice to people who didn't have one before; helping to amplify their voices and make sure that their concerns are heard,” she said.
“From School Board to State Senate, Santa Monica Native Hopes to Make the Leap,” February 11, 2014
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