Republican Ted Grose and Democrat Autumn Burke have worked in real estate and emphasize support for small businesses, but that’s where the similarities end

Ted Grose and Autumn Burke

Ted Grose and Autumn Burke

Unlike other Westside contests this election cycle, the race for the newly drawn 62nd Assembly District has come down to two candidates who would be newcomers to holding political office.

Republican Ted Grose and Democrat Autumn Burke entered the race unknown to voters, though Burke’s name carries plenty of weight in local politics thanks to her parents: former L.A. County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke and former Coastal Commission member William Burke.

Grose and Burke have each worked locally in the real estate business — Grose for more than 30 years — and both say they’d make support for small business a top priority in serving the district, which includes Marina del Rey, Playa Vista, Playa del Rey, Venice, Westchester and El Segundo as well as Inglewood, Hawthorne, Lennox and Gardena.

But that’s where the similarities end.

As a Republican in a district that tilts overwhelmingly Democratic, peeling off natural support from Burke is a must for Grose, even if voter turnout is very low. No Republican has won election to the state Assembly (or the state Senate and Congress, for that matter) in several decades.

Burke has also outpaced Grose in fundraising.
Grose had raised about $10,000 and loaned his campaign another $15,000 as of the last summary reporting period, which ended June 30. Reports since July 1, which include only contributions of $1,000 or more, have Grose picking up another $5,800, more than half of it out of Grose’s pocket. Grose’s highest-profile donor is Charles T. Munger Jr., the physicist son of Berkshire Hathaway Vice Chairman Charlie Munger who helped bankroll the 2010 state ballot measure that created the Citizens Redistricting Commission.

Burke’s campaign, meanwhile, had received $428,000 in contributions as of June 30, with donors including current and former elected officials, organized labor and committees representing a wide range of industries—many of them committees that give regularly to Sacramento incumbents. During the hard-fought primary, Burke’s cause also got a boost from more than $500,000 in support spent by independent political committees.
— Gary Walker

Ted Grose
Party: Republican
Age: 60
Residence: Westchester
Occupation: Small business owner
Endorsements: Did not seek endorsements

What makes you the better choice in this race and sets you apart from your opponent?
First of all, I have raised a family in this district. I have lived in this district for 36 years and have been in the real estate business in this district for 32 years. I’ve been both a renter and a homeowner in this district. But the defining difference between me and my opponent is that I have no IOUs. I don’t owe anyone anything and I can be as independent as I want to be. Unlike my opponent, who is owned and operated by a political machine, I have no debts to pay upon going to Sacramento.

What is your position on AB 2222, which would amend the existing state law (SB 1818) that allows housing developers to increase the density of their projects beyond local limitations in exchange for production of affordable housing?
I’m not that familiar with Assembly Bill 2222. I think SB 1818 in its current incarnation is a destroyer of neighborhoods. There was no mechanism to measure outcomes of affordable housing. If it can protect the integrity of our communities and provides for measurable accountability, I’m in favor of taking a look at Assembly Bill 2222.

What is your position on the Annenberg Foundation’s controversial plan to build a nature education center, including an animal adoption and care component, in the Ballona Wetlands?
The wetlands are very important to me. I remember the amount of fill that was taken out of what is now Playa Vista and dumped in the wetlands. If the Annenberg Foundation’s efforts help bring public awareness and funding to the wetlands and speed up the analysis for the restoration process, I think that serves a good purpose. I think the area has become a dump, and to think that it could go back to being wetlands the way that it was is a bit farfetched.

Do you support a statewide minimum wage increase?
Raising the minimum wage will be good for those who have jobs and will keep their jobs and bad for those who lose them.

County redevelopment proposals for Marina del Rey would reconfigure the area. What would you like to see happen?
As a state legislator I would have very little influence on the footprint of Marina del Rey, and I’d defer to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors on how they plan to make the community more environmentally progressive and user-friendly.

As a Republican In a district that is overwhelmingly Democratic, what is your strategy to attract Democratic voters on Election Day?
The strategy that I have is to get the word out about who Ted is. I believe that the voters of this district will vote for the better candidate who knows the issues. I know the issues and I understand the issues that matter to people, not to the special interests. And I’m the better candidate for the district, plain and simple.

Your opponent has a lot of donor support and has benefitted from independent expenditures. Is this something you can overcome?
That just points to the fact that my opponent has a lot of IOUs. I’m the better candidate because people want someone who is not running just for the title. I want the job.

If elected, what would your highest priorities be?
My top priorities are intertwined. We need to reform our education system, be more supportive of teachers and beef up our community colleges and vocational schools. In order for people to enter the middle class, we have to have middle-class jobs — and for that we need an educated workforce. We need to create a business environment where businesses want to grow and want to come to our district. Our business environment should be as attractive as our climate.

Autumn Burke
Party: Democrat
Age: 40
Residence: Marina del Rey
Occupation: Small business owner
Endorsements: California Democratic Party, Assemblyman Steven Bradford, L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin, Sierra Club California, Peace Officers Research Association of California

What makes you the better choice in this race and sets you apart from your opponent?
We live in a very complex district that has urban communities as well as coastal communities. I think one huge difference is that I have tried to understand the entire 62nd Assembly District, not only certain communities. I have made a concerted effort to try to listen to and to understand all of the concerns of the district as a whole.

What is your position on AB 2222, which would amend the existing state law (SB 1818) that allows housing developers to increase the density of their projects beyond local limitations in exchange for production of affordable housing?
Obviously the net loss in affordable housing is a big concern. As someone who has worked for years in real estate, I have a real understanding of the importance of having affordable housing in the district. I know that a lot of people in Westchester have worked on getting an amendment to SB 1818.We want to see developers come to our district, but we also need affordable housing. So I think AB 2222 is a good improvement on SB 1818 and we need to move forward on it.

What is your position on the Annenberg Foundation’s controversial plan to build a nature education center, including an animal adoption and care component, in the Ballona Wetlands?
For me, it’s about seeing the Ballona Wetlands become a place where people can be much more involved with it than they are now. I would like to see kids and adults get educated about and understand nature. We need a center like that, but where it’s placed is something that might have to be discussed.

Do you support a statewide minimum wage increase?
Absolutely. I completely support raising the minimum wage.

County redevelopment proposals for Marina del Rey would significantly reconfigure the area. What would you like to see happen?
I would like to continue to see us be an active community in Marina del Rey. Mayor Eric Garcetti has a plan to create more walkable streets [in Los Angeles], and I think that’s a good goal. We need to continue to push for this, and we see that a lot of communities in and around our district — like Inglewood and Marina del Rey — are looking at these types of initiatives. [Walkable] communities are also good for our businesses because more people are active and get to see them. Having more opportunities for bicycling and jogging are also good goals.

Having benefitted from independent expenditures, what are your thoughts on campaign finance reform?
I’m a huge supporter of campaign finance reform. I think that I am a classic example of the need for campaign finance reform because I was outspent by another candidate in the primary by $400,000. Did independent expenditures support me in the primary? Yes they did. But I won because I am a lifelong resident of this community and I think that people understand that; they know what I stand for and that’s why they supported me. And I think that’s what paid off for me.

If elected, what would your highest priority be?
Without question my top priorities would be to create an environment for small businesses to grow and come to our state and to thrive. That would be my No. 1 priority. As a small businesswoman, I can relate to other businesses owners and I know what they need to grow and to thrive. We can’t allow jobs to leave the state anymore. For so long we could count on the beach and the sun to draw businesses here, but not anymore. We have to compete for them.

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