By Aaron Blevins, 12/06/2012
New legislator plans to focus on economic development
After three anxiety-ridden weeks of waiting, former Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom has announced that he has defeated incumbent Betsy Butler for the 50th Assembly Dist-rict seat.
Bloom, who was sworn in Monday in Sacramento, won the seat with 93,445 votes, a little more than 1,700 over Butler. He said his first order of business is to focus on the state’s long-term fiscal health.
“I think economic development is a key issue for the state,” Bloom said, adding that a successful local economy leads to better government services. “You know, it takes a successful economy that produces revenue that we then turn around for the benefit of our residents.”
He said one important service that needs funding is the state’s court systems, which have “really been hit hard” by budget cuts. The new Assembly member previously worked as a family law settlement officer and mediator for the Los Angeles Superior Court.
“It’s something that not too many folks are aware of,” Bloom said. “It’s dramatically affected our ability to deliver legal services to people throughout the state. In L.A. County alone, there’s been a cut of about fifty courts that have closed. This doesn’t just affect business, it affects people who need to access the legal system for family law matters [or other reasons].”
He said any issues impacting his district, which includes the Hollywood Hills, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Santa Monica, Malibu and a portion of Mid-City, will require coordination from the state. Bloom is familiar with local government/state government correspondence, having spent 13 years on the Santa Monica City Council.
“That is an important part of my responsibilities in Sacramento, one that I understand quite well,” he said, adding that he also hopes to address education and environmental issues.
Bloom is also acquainted with the Fairfax District. He attended John Burroughs Middle School and Fairfax High School, and also lived in the Miracle Mile. In all, Bloom has lived in the area that is now the 50th Assembly District, which he referred to as large and diverse, for 45 years.
The end of his mayoral term coincided with the beginning of his Assembly term, but Bloom has been in Sacramento receiving orientation for the last couple of weeks. His two-year term will be his first in the Legislature, and it didn’t come easy. Bloom sneaked through a very close race in the Presidential Primary Election, losing to Butler, who represented the 53rd Assembly District prior to redistricting, by .2 percent of the vote. With the state using a top-two primary this year, he moved on to the November run-off with Butler by beating Democrat Torie Osborn and Republican Bradly Torgan, who received 23.4 percent and 24.4 percent of the vote respectively.
Bloom said he had been campaigning for at least two years, and he is no stranger to close races. In his bid for a Santa Monica City Council seat in 1998, he lost by less than 125 votes.
“I know the value of every individual vote,” Bloom added. “I don’t think anybody would choose to be in a close election, but it does instill character and a bit of humility. There sure was a lot of anxiety associated with it.”
Representatives of Butler did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.