Marina del Rey’s Autumn Burke, daughter of former L.A. County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, leads the pack in name recognition
By Gary Walker
You might say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Marina del Rey business development consultant Autumn Burke, daughter of former Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, is one of eight hopefuls vying to represent the area in the California Assembly.
Assemblyman Steven Bradford (D- Gardena), whose 62nd Assembly District includes the marina, Venice, Playa Vista, Playa del Rey and Westchester, terms out of office later this year and will seek a state Senate seat.
Former Assemblywoman Betsy Butler’s recent decision to leave the race and run instead for the seat currently held by state Sen. Ted Lieu (who is running to replace retiring Rep. Henry Waxman in Congress) left the Assembly contest without a high-profile candidate.
This is the first political campaign for the 40-year-old Burke, whose father is former state Coastal Commission member William Burke, but she says she isn’t seeking office for its own sake or relying simply on the strength of her family name.
“I think I have a really good grasp of the district. I have the skills to run in this district, and maybe if I was in another district I wouldn’t have decided to run,” said Burke, who has a background in real estate and finance.
Burke began campaigning last year and has raised more than $168,000, according to campaign statements filed in January with the Secretary of State.
Assembly hopefuls meet in public for the first time tonight at a 7 p.m. political forum hosted by the West Los Angeles Democratic Club at St. Bede’s Episcopal Church, 3590 Grand View Blvd., Mar Vista.
Democrats in the race include Burke, West Basin Water District board member and former Inglewood Board of Education member Gloria Gray, attorney Simone Farrise, community activist Adam Plimpton, businessman Paul Kouri and former Inglewood City Councilman Mike Stevens.
Westchester real estate broker Ted Grose is the lone Republican in the race, and student Emidio “Mimi” Soltysik has declined to state a party affiliation.
Grose, 59, plans to make education reform a dominate theme in his campaign.
Although the district is about 60% Democratic, Grose said the pressing concerns of the district’s constituents matter more to them than a candidate’s party affiliation.
“Any candidate can win if they have views that are in line with the district,” said Grose, who appears to have strong support in the southeastern portion of the district.
Burke called economic development is a priority for the Westside.
“We’re on a good trajectory with Silicon Beach and Madison Garden Square Garden Co. [taking over The Forum in Inglewood, also part of the district],” she said.
Allen Hoffenblum, a Westside political consultant, said he sees the 62nd Assembly District contest as wide open due to candidates’ relative anonymity.
“This district overlaps with the [contested] 33rd Congressional District and the 26th state Senate District, so these voters are going to be bombarded with political mailers,” Hoffenblum said. “It’s going to be interesting to see who can cut through the clutter and make themselves known to the voters.”
West Los Angeles Democratic Club Assistant Vice President Marc Saltzberg said knowledge of the area will help set candidates apart.
“I’ll be looking for someone who has made it their business to know the issues of the district and formulate an approach to know how to deal with them,” Saltzberg said.
Venice community activist Marta Evry said Burke has been those most visibly interested in Venice issues so far.
“Of all the candidates, she’s the only one who’s been proactive in learning about Venice issues — development mostly, but also affordable housing and homelessness,” Every said.
Saltzberg expects political endorsements will play an important role during the campaign.
“I normally don’t care about them, but in this race I will be paying closer attention,” he said.