Image: Weho News
Image: Weho News

State Assemblymember Richard Bloom may have been the first Santa Monica City Council member to make the leap to Sacramento, but he has not forgotten his roots. The representative of Assembly District 50, which includes Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Malibu, and a big swath of the Santa Monica Mountains, has decided to throw his political weight behind candidates in each of his hometown’s competitive local races.

“As a longtime resident and former Mayor, I’ve stayed interested and engaged on local issues. Our great city plays a pivotal role locally, regionally and beyond and our leaders must rise to multiple challenges presented by an ever more complex world,” Bloom told Santa Monica Next Wednesday.

“My endorsed candidates all share common traits that I look for in leaders. These include intelligence and a willingness to listen and be open to new ideas,” said Bloom, who was elected to the State Assembly in 2012 after serving on the Santa Monica City Council for 13 years.

“All of these candidates share a commitment to core values of our city, such as education, broad community process, strong neighborhoods, and compassion for all,” said Bloom, who chairs the Assembly’s budget subcommittee on resources and transportation. “They believe in encouraging civility in our discourse that respects every voice and understand that achieving our many important goals can only occur with excellent planning and continuous nurturing of Santa Monica’s remarkable economy.”

City Council

In the 14-way race for three seats on the Santa Monica City Council, Bloom has decided only to back two candidates: Mayor Pam O’Connor, who is running for reelection, and former Planning Commissioner and long-time political observer Frank Gruber, who is making his second bid for Council.

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“I am honored to have his support,” said O’Connor, who served with Bloom on the City Council from when he was elected in 1999 until 2012 when he was elected to the State Assembly. Gruber, who has written on local politics for decades in his column for The Lookout News, echoed O’Connor’s sentiments.

Gruber said he was “honored” to have Bloom’s endorsement “because in more than two decades of involvement in political activity in Santa Monica, including many productive years on City Council, and now as a member of the Assembly, Assemblymember Bloom demonstrated over and over again a keen understanding of what the residents of Santa Monica need and want from their local government.”

O’Connor, who also represents Santa Monica and the Southbay on the Metro Board of Directors, has garnered the support of a number of prominent political and community leaders, including L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, both of whom sit on the Metro Board with her. Former State legislator and fellow long-time Santa Monica resident Sheila Kuehl  has also backed O’Connor’s reelection bid.

Gruber has the backing of several local groups, including UNITE HERE Local 11, the regional hospitality workers’ union. UNITE HERE are backing Gruber and incumbent Kevin McKeown this year. Gruber also has the support of the City’s Police and Firefighter unions, Committee for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS), and the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters.

Additionally, both Gruber and O’Connor enjoy the support of City Councilmembers Gleam Davis, Robert Holbrook, and Terry O’Day.

Though Bloom has only endorsed two candidates for the three seats, he said that could change.

“I am considering endorsing a third candidate for city council and am paying close attention as November gets closer,” he said.

SMC Board of Trustees

Four of the seven members on the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees, the governing body that oversees one of the most successful city colleges in the state, are up for reelection.

Bloom is throwing his weight behind the four incumbents: SMC Professor Dr. Andrew Walzer, CPA Barry Snell, President of California Community College Trustees Dr. Louise Jaffee, and Dr. Nancy Greenstein, director of Police Community Services at UCLA.

Walzer, originally elected in 2006, is seeking his third term on the Board. Snell is seeking his first election to the Board. He was appointed in February 2014 to serve out the term of Judge David Finkle, who stepped down due to health concerns.

Jaffe, a script supervisor for The Simpsons and a local education activist, will also be seeking a third term. Greenstein, originally elected in 2002, is seeking a fourth term on the Board.

Santa Monica-Malibu Board of Education

With four seats open on the seven-member Santa Monica-Malibu Board of Education, Bloom is backing three candidates in the race.

Bloom is supporting incumbents Ralph Mechur, an architect, and Laurie Lieberman, a lawyer and education activist, for reelection. He is also backing SMC Professor Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein, who is making his first bid for Board of Education.

Of the four seats, one is wide open, since incumbent Nimish Patel opted not to seek reelection this year. Incumbent Oscar de la Torre is also running for reelection.

While there are four seats open, Bloom is only supporting three candidates for Board of Education. He did not mention whether he plans to back a fourth.