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Assembly Candidate Forum Creates Dialogue
May 17, 2012 - By Annemarie Donkin
The Topanga Community Club (TCC) and the Progressive Democrats of the Santa Monica Mountains (PDSMM) sponsored a forum on Sunday, May 6, at the Community House to introduce the four candidates vying for election to State Assembly District 50, whose boundaries were redrawn last year following the 2010 Census.
The candidates in attendance were Torie Osborn, Brad Torgan and Santa Monica Mayor, Richard Bloom.
Due to a scheduling conflict, longtime friend and supporter Fran Diamond represented Assemblywoman Betsy Butler of AD66.
Due to an extremely low turnout, the candidates joined the audience and sat in a circle, creating a wonderful environment for a true dialogue among nearly 20 people.
Gabrielle Lamirand, treasurer of the TCC, moderated the wide-ranging discussion that spanned issues from the health and welfare of children, funding for education, affordable housing and protecting the environment.
Candidate Torie Osborn, who has been endorsed by former State Senator Sheila Kuehl and City Councilman Bob Rosendahl, emphasized her commitment to social justice and the environment.
Topanga is the land of my favorite hikes, Osborn said. I love this place. It has such a pioneering spirit, where people live and work in wide open spaces. But the California dream and the society that benefitted me and my family is careening off a cliff.
After 30 years, I am reimagining an economy that works for California, Osborn said. We need to stand up [against] corporations that destroy the environment; I am for a single payer health care and basically, we need to change the conversation so California can be a leader again.
A 25-year resident of Santa Monica, Osborn advocates for social justice, economic common sense, womens issues and emphasized her role as an innovative leader who has guided some of the nations most effective non-profit organizations as they tackled tremendous challenges the AIDS crisis, poverty and homelessness.
During his opening statement, Santa Monicas Mayor Richard Bloom promoted the increasing economic vitality of his coastal city and advocated for his record on the environment as a California Coastal Commissioner, Chair of the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, Chair of the Westside Cities Council of Governments, and board member of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.
I love Topanga, Bloom said. And our record of accomplishment in Santa Monica proves you can have progress and prosperity; we are the model, we have raised revenues that we can spend on special services.
Bloom said his top two priorities are public safety and education and said he has worked with local, regional and statewide agencies for 13 years.
I know how these things work; the only way they keep going is to take more money away from schools and local governments, he said. We need fiscal reform; that is at the top of my agenda.
Incumbent Assemblymember Betsy Butler was elected to AD66 in 2010, but decided to run in AD50 after the districts were redrawn last year. Butler has been an advocate for consumers, working families and the environment
When it concerned Topanga, Diamond emphasized Butlers environmental record that includes the time she spent working for the California League of Conservation Voters and the Environmental Defense Fund.
This is a place where we need a fighter on the environment, Diamond said of Butler.
Butler currently is a board member of Equality California, served as President of the National Women's Political Caucus (LA Westside Chapter), and as Director of Development for Consumer Attorneys of California.
She also served as an appointed member of the California Film Commission, where she worked to keep the film industry as a driver of the state's economy.
As a Los Angeles native, Bradley Torgan said he is a product of three of the public school systems serving Assembly District 50, the Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Las Virgenes Unified School Districts.
Growing up with the Santa Monica Mountains at his back door, he learned from an early age the natural and recreational resources the district provides.
A self-described fiscal conservative, in 2005, Torgan was appointed General Counsel for the California Department of Parks and Recreation, a position he held for more than three years and is currently in private practice in West Hollywood.
I am an advocate for No Child Left Inside program, he said. It is important for kids to be outdoors and connected to nature early in their lives.