When seeking to expand his elected office experience beyond Santa Monica, Richard Bloom couldn’t help but see the advantage of representing an area where he has well established roots.
Having served on the Santa Monica City Council since 1999, including multiple stints as mayor, Bloom is running in the Nov. 6 election for a state Assembly seat in the newly formed 50th District. In addition to Santa Monica, the district includes cities such as Malibu, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, as well as the Santa Monica Mountains.
Bloom has lived in the district for 45 years, as a resident of Santa Monica, West Los Angeles and West Hollywood and his family law practice is also based locally. Beyond his council service, Bloom has worked on agencies including the California Coastal Commission, Westside Cities Council of Governments, Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission and Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, which he believes has enhanced his familiarity with district communities and their priorities.
“I’ve been working on issues relating to the natural environment, the built environment and transit not just in Santa Monica, but throughout the district,” Bloom said. “This is my back yard, it’s my home; I know this place intimately.”
The Santa Monica mayor is vying for the statewide seat against Assemblywoman Betsy Butler, who relocated to the 50th District after redistricting lines were drawn. For two years Butler has served the 53rd District, which includes Westside communities such as Marina del Rey and parts of the South Bay. The two Democrats are battling for the Assembly seat due to a new regulation that pits the top two vote-getters from the primary, regardless of party, in the general election.
Bloom believes he has a key advantage over Butler in understanding the needs of the district by having lived and worked there many years. “What’s most important is the depth of my experiences that are relevant here in this great district,” he said.
During his time on the City Council and with environmental groups, Bloom said he has grown to love public service and felt that he had more to offer at the state level. “The state is in trouble, it has been for some time now, and I’d like to bring my skills to bear on providing solutions not only to make the state better but the greatest state in the country.”
When speaking with voters Bloom said the overriding concern he hears about is polarization among the parties, which they feel is plaguing the state government from being effective. Other priorities for voters are jobs, the economy and responsible governance, he has learned.
“I take my job as a representative really seriously. I feel strongly about those issues too, but because those are the priorities of my constituents, I adopt those as the priorities for this district and the state,” Bloom said.
If he is elected, Bloom said some of the key issues he would focus on would be restoring the state’s education system to its former greatness, providing a responsible level of social services and climate change, which he calls the number-one environmental issue.
One local issue that Bloom has spent plenty of time with during his years on the council is the Santa Monica Airport, which has drawn concerns of neighbors related to jet pollution, noise and runway safety. Former Assemblyman Ted Lieu was active in addressing airport-related pollution concerns, and Bloom said that is one issue for which he would hope to provide solutions in state office.
Bloom said Santa Monica has set the bar high when it comes to environmental standards and he would like to expand on that at the state level. While he acknowledged that addressing climate change will require a lot of work, he believes it can be done responsibly and without affecting the economy negatively.
“I want to continue to set the bar high for the state of California; this should be the most environmentally sensitive state in the country,” Bloom said.
Bloom stressed his experience as an attorney and councilman in bringing people of differing views together, noting how the council worked collaboratively with the business community to enact a ban on single-use plastic bags. “I think that’s the approach that will work in Sacramento, to work together to achieve these goals,” he said.
Education will also be a focus for Bloom, who said schools are in “very dire straits now,” as education has been steadily defunded since 2007. Working to restore schools across the state to their former greatness will involve not only adequate funding but reforming the way state leaders approach education, he said.
Serving on the council and with various organizations over the years has prepared Bloom to be able to build on relationships with officials and community members in state office, he said.
“I already have those relationships and I already understand many of the issues and the nuances of these communities because I’ve lived here for so long and participated in so many different ways,” Bloom said.
Although his opponent has existing experience in the Assembly, Bloom said voters are looking to see changes made to reduce polarization and have elected leaders in office who can work collaboratively to bring solutions for the state.
“I don’t think voters want business as usual anymore. I think voters are looking for elected leaders who look at things differently and will approach the problems of the state differently,” he said. §