By Edwin Folven, 10/25/2012
Independent challenges Waxman in 33rd District
Independent candidate Bill Bloomfield hopes a change in congressional district boundaries on the Westside this year will translate into a change at the ballot box regarding who should represent the area.
The boundaries for the 30th Congressional District, which has been represented for decades by Congressman Henry Waxman (D-California), were reworked under redistricting to create the 33rd Congressional District, with new areas such as the South Bay and the Palos Verdes Penninsula. The change inspired Bloomfield, a 62-year-old Manhattan Beach resident and businessman, to challenge Waxman for the congressional seat he has held since 1974.
Bloomfield said he knows it will be difficult to unseat Waxman, but he believes he has a good chance because voters’ attitudes are transforming about their representation in Washington, D.C. He cited the lagging economy, the high unemployment rate and a public perception that members of Congress are too divided along party lines. Bloomfield had been a longtime Republican, but re-registered as Independent last year because he was fed up with the partisanship.
“What inspired me [to run] was my concern about what is not happening in Congress. It’s locked up in the gridlock of hyper-partisanship,” Bloomfield said. “I realized how bad it had gotten in Congress.”
Bloomfield said Waxman has not had a serious challenge for the district seat in nearly 40 years. In his opinion, that is too long for the same person to represent the area. Bloomfield is a member of a group known as No Labels, which advocates for mandates such as not paying members of Congress unless they pass a budget, and altering the way filibusters are conducted so that bills do not become mired in gridlock. He vowed to build bridges with members of both parties if elected, but did not offer concrete examples.
“Hyper-partisanship leads to Congress breaking down, and we need to work together to solve the country’s problems,” Bloomfield said. “I’d like to continue building a block of Republicans, Democrats and Independents who will work together. Our goal is to get around forty [members of Congress], and the feeling is we will be a major force to reckon with.”
Bloomfield said the first order of business will be to get the economy back on track, which will allow legislators to work on other issues. He is concerned about tax increases and the so-called “fiscal cliff” the nation is facing if Congress doesn’t come to an agreement by the end of December. The candidate added that he is also concerned about addressing some of the key issues affecting the local area, and cited reforming education, public transportation and energy conservation as some of his top priorities.
“Education is one of the reasons we need to get on a path of fiscal solvency. Inner-city schools and public schools need more money, but I want the school districts to be accountable for those federal dollars,” Bloomfield said. “I want to provide funding to schools in need, and then hold them accountable for results. If they don’t produce, we have to look at other areas where the funding may be more productive.”
Bloomfield also said he is a long time proponent of the Westside Subway Extension, but the Metropolitan Transportation Authority needs to address concerns made by the city of Beverly Hills that the tunneling may cause disruptions under Beverly Hills High School. He said the tunnel needs to be at least 75 feet underground, deep enough that there is less potential for problems.
In terms of energy conservation, Bloomfield said the legislators need to look for ways to make the country more self-sufficient and less dependent on foreign oil. He said he opposes any additional offshore oil drilling in California, but supports construction of the Keystone Pipeline. He also supports alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power, and added that a shift away from foreign energy suppliers would strengthen the United States’ foreign policy positions.
“I will make sure it’s a priority to get off foreign oil within the next 10 years,” Bloomfield said. “It’s a national security issue, it’s good for the environment and it will create jobs.”
Bloomfield added that he is also concerned about social issues such as Prop. 8 and same-sex marriage, which he supports.
“I voted no on Prop. 8,” he said. “As a citizen of Los Angeles, I would agree with equal rights for gays and lesbians to marry. I will also vote for a repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.”
The Independent candidate also said healthcare is a key issue, and that he has long been a proponent of looking for ways to improve the system. He said he opposed to repealing the federal Affordable Care Act unless a better option is presented. One of the key components of the healthcare act that he supports is its extension of coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions and closing the Medicare doughnut hole. He said, however, that he is opposed to the level of bureaucracy the plan creates, and said it may prove difficult for the federal government to pay for the changes.
“A simple repeal without something better — no way,” Bloomfield added.
He said his background in business, where he has run successful companies such as Web Service Company, an operator of commercial laundry equipment, has taught him to look for ways to be more efficient. He said he will work to ensure Medicare and Social Security remain intact for people who lack the ability to pay for healthcare. He added that one area that he and Waxman share common ground is opposition to the tobacco industry. Bloomfield and his father put up an anti-smoking billboard in 10900 block of Santa Monica Blvd. in Westwood in 1987 that has a digital counter that keeps track of smoking deaths.
“Twenty-five years later, my family still owns the billboard,” Bloomfield said. “My dad was an ex-smoker, and through him, I grew to believe that the tobacco industry are evil people. We want to save lives.”