As a return challenger to one of the Westside’s longest serving elected officials, congressional candidate Marcy Winograd is primarily seeking the opportunity to represent the people.

In her 2006 bid to unseat incumbent Congresswoman Jane Harman in the 36th District, Winograd garnered about 38 percent of the primary vote following a campaign that lasted just three months and focused on issues such as ending the war in Iraq. This time around the high school English and history teacher says she has had more time to structure her campaign to oppose Harman in the June 8th Democratic primary and believes she can bring needed policy changes to the district.

“I certainly learned that we need more time to organize. The three months was an exuberant frenzy because we had a lot of grassroots involvement but it doesn’t afford you the time required to strategically plan a campaign,” Winograd recalled of her previous race. “We didn’t have time to reach out to very important communities.”

In a recent interview from her campaign office at the Villa Marina Marketplace in Del Rey, Winograd spoke of her positions on some key issues in the local communities, how she would offer change to Harman’s policies and why she wants to represent the 36th District seat.

“I would be very proud to represent the people of this district and fight for environmental justice, for a greener economy and for more affordable housing, as well as to strengthen our public school system,” Winograd said.

A longtime resident of the West Los Angeles area, Winograd noted the diversity between the communities within the 36th District, which stretches from San Pedro north to Venice and West Los Angeles.

She says she considers herself a leader in the state Democratic Party, as the co-founder of the Los Angeles chapter of Progressive Democrats of America and the co-chair of the state party’s foreign policy committee of the progressive caucus. Winograd, who has 15 years of teaching experience in the Los Angeles Unified School District, most recently at Crenshaw High School, believes she is also a leader in education who has worked to facilitate professional development.

The congressional candidate said she has raised nearly $300,000 for her campaign so far and stressed that she has not received any donations from corporations because she does not want to be indebted to corporate interests.

When Harman’s seat became up for re-election, Winograd explained that she was motivated to run again by voters who pushed to have a candidate who would really represent them.

“I felt in many ways that it was my responsibility to run again,” she said of her reasons for entering the race. “We need a real representative in Congress and not a corporate representative.”

Referring to Harman’s support for the Iraq invasion and votes to continue funding of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Winograd pointed out that she marched against the Iraq War and is dedicated to peace.

“I’m still very committed to the pursuit of peace while my opponent repeatedly votes for war and occupation and talks about the next front,” Winograd said.

As a congressional representative Winograd said she would call for a Green New Deal to redirect funding priorities from war spending to issues such as job creation and energy independence.

“We need someone who’s going to be an advocate for a transition from a war economy to a green economy,” Winograd said.

Winograd argued that she has taken leadership roles on certain issues for which Harman has been “silent,” saying that she has testified at legislative hearings to protect votes from electronic manipulation.

Regarding more locally specific issues, Winograd was quick to note that she initiated a “no jets” pledge at the Santa Monica Airport after meeting with nearby residents who are concerned about the effects of jet pollution. The pledge, which called on celebrities and elected officials to not use jets at the city-owned airport, was signed by all candidates in the 53rd Assembly District race, Assemblyman Ted Lieu, and Harman indicated that she would abide by the request.

Winograd said raising awareness about the harmful effects of jet pollution is key, and as the representative in Congress she would propose a jet ban at Santa Monica Airport.

“It’s not safe; there’s no buffer zone and (the pollution) is highly toxic to the neighboring communities,” she said of such a proposal. “I think I take more of a leadership role (than Harman) in responding to the community concerns in urging people not to fly with the pledge.”

In regards to transportation, Winograd said she would like to see more federal money used to develop more bicycle lanes and supports mass transit projects such as the Metro Exposition Line extension to Santa Monica and the Green Line extension to Los Angeles International Airport. She has concerns with a proposed subway to the sea, saying that such projects would have to examine the potential for methane gas.

“I feel a great urgency to support mass transit in all of L.A., particularly here on the Westside,” she said.

Winograd also stressed that she would work to protect the coast from offshore drilling, saying that she co-authored a resolution passed by the state Democratic Party that reaffirms its longstanding opposition to new offshore oil drilling and any new onshore drilling.

Noting that housing foreclosures have had a significant effect on the district, Winograd said she would fight for a temporary freeze on foreclosures.

As the campaign approaches its final weeks, Winograd said she is planning to tour as many of the local communities as she can to relay her message.

“In the final weeks I want to walk and phone as much as I can… so I can be among the voters listening, learning and introducing myself,” she said.

The candidate acknowledged that her strongest base is among voters in northern communities, having received 59 percent of the votes in Venice in 2006. While she has worked to establish increased support in the South Bay, including having a table at the Torrance Farmers Market and meeting with area unions, Winograd said having a bigger election turnout is a key for victory.

Winograd said she has challenged Harman to debate the important issues facing the district but the congresswoman has consistently refused.

With the nation having witnessed “runaway greed” and a redistribution of wealth upward in the last few years, when millions of Americans have lost their jobs, Winograd says she hopes voters in the June 8th primary will feel that it’s “time for a change.”

“We need real Democrats who are going to challenge those who pander to Wall Street and vote to make banks even more powerful,” she concluded.

“I think people are hungry for real representation and they’ve had enough corporate influence in their lives. In Congress I want to be the voice of this district.”