Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom, candidate for redrawn 50th Assembly District in the June 5 primary, has been on the Santa Monica City Council for 13 years and has served as mayor three times.
In a telephone interview with Frontiers, Bloom, an attorney, said he is running because, “I really think I have something to offer the state of California. ... I think I have some skills that will lend themselves to helping make a difference there.” Bloom said his long history as a family law attorney, where he’s “dealt with a lot of people in extreme conflict,” has taught him how to focus on “moving people forward and getting issues resolved as opposed to just fomenting the conflict.”
Asked why LGBT people should support him over LGBT activist Torie Osborn and gay Republican Brad Torgan, who are also seeking the seat [along with LGBT ally Assemblymember Betsy Butler], Bloom said, “Frankly, if your number one issue is to elect LGBT candidates, then clearly I don’t qualify. But if one’s concern is with not only LGBT issues, on which I’m very strong—if your issue is with the state economy, polarization in Sacramento, the environment or education or providing a strong social services safety net, then I’m the best choice based on my experience and my very, very long and deep record of getting things done on every one of those issues. Even on LGBT issues—I was one of the early members of Mayors for the Right to Marry. I personally placed on our council agenda and am responsible for the passage of Santa Monica’s equal benefits ordinance. I’ve been a strong advocate on the issue of bullying in our schools. I’ve worked very, very closely with our HIV nonprofit here, Common Ground.”
Bloom “of course” supports SB 48, the FAIR Education Act, the law requiring California schools to teach the societal contributions of LGBT persons and people with disabilities.
Bloom said he has represented “many same-sex couples over the years who were experiencing difficulty in their relationships, and I understand very, very well the not only emotional but legal meanings that the right to marry carries with it, and I’m a very, very strong supporter and have been for many, many years of same-sex marriage.”
Bloom sees California’s biggest challenges as “the state of the budget and the economy. We have higher unemployment here than almost anywhere in the country.” He is hopeful, however, citing California’s higher education system, “the natural resources we have, the beauty of this state, the people who are here and the underlying structures we have—it’s hard to understand why we aren’t in a better place.”
To get there, Bloom said, “we have a need to take a very close look across the board at our revenue streams and reform the way we generate revenue. We have to figure out a way to do things in a more bipartisan fashion. We need a number of reforms in the way the state conducts its budgeting process. I favor pay as you go, two-year budgeting.”
On partisan polarization, Bloom thinks the open primary system “should help create some inroads in that direction, if it works as intended, by electing a different mix of legislators.”
Bloom also expressed concern about businesses leaving California for what they perceive to be sunnier tax and regulatory climes. He cited entrepreneurs who’ve told him that getting through Santa Monica’s regulatory process was “relatively easy,” but that “regulations from the state bog them down ... in red tape and paperwork every year, and that cuts into their profitability.”
Bloom referred to the tax-restrictive Prop. 13 as “the third rail of revenue issues, taxation issues” and said it was “unfathomable” to him that “any time soon the public is going to be willing to vote for changing Prop. 13.” He also expressed concern that a simple two-tier property tax system between residential and commercial properties could harm small “mom and pop” businesses.
Bloom would prefer to attack the deficit, at least in part, by “look[ing] across the board at our revenue streams and identify those, which are very few, that can sustain an increase,” adding, “we ought to be looking at things that we haven’t taxed before, like some form of services tax.” He added that he believes the current tax code “has inherent in it a great deal of volatility,” resulting in, among other things, revenue projections being off sometimes by billions of dollars.
Bloom said he has no view on an apparent dispute between Osborn and Butler over whether Butler is the incumbent or instead a “carpetbagger” who moved into the newly drawn district.
“I’m interested in voters knowing about me and my candidacy and, from my perspective, that’s the most important thing that folks need to know,” Bloom said. “I really think we need to work on reducing the amount of polarization out there. This battle between Betsy and Torie to me is the kind of thing that voters don’t want to see. That is exactly the opposite direction that voters would like to see things go.”
Bloom said his greatest achievement overall “has been bringing people together in the city and involving them in their government in a way that helps move things forward and create a better city.”