Ben Allen Column on Santa Monica Observer

By: Ben Allen, Candidate for California State Senate District 26

On November 4th, voters will head to the polls and face critical choices that impact both the future of our State and our community here in Santa Monica. 

Local voters will determine who will fill the shoes of long-time political titans L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and U.S. Congressman Henry Waxman, and who will take over the scandal-ridden positions of L.A. County Assessor and Sheriff. A major water bond proposal is also on the ballot, as well as one to improve the funding for parks in L.A. County. Here in Santa Monica, voters will make decisions about the future of our airport, taxes on property sales and support for affordable housing.

Our voters will also face a big decision over who will represent our community in the State Senate – and they will see my name as a choice.

Some voters may recognize it, since I have deep roots here in Santa Monica. Born and raised by two local educators, I attended our local public schools K-12, was active with Troop 2 of the Boy Scouts, went on to Harvard and Cambridge, worked in Washington D.C. for some time, and then later went on to UC Berkeley for my law degree. Currently serving a second term on our local Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education, I also teach a class at UCLA Law School on education policy and the law.

Involved in public service for some time, I chose to run for State Senate to help tackle the tremendous challenges California faces and to ensure that the needs of our District – my home – are addressed in Sacramento.

If elected to be our next State Senator, I will focus on modernizing our infrastructure, particularly in transportation, providing all children with a high-quality public education, rebuilding our economy and boosting job growth, protecting our precious open spaces, and addressing California's severe drought.

Deeply rooted in this District, I bring a combination of experience in the private sector and a track record of success in government at various levels – as a staffer on Capitol Hill, seeing the legislative process from that perspective, serving at the state level on the University of California Board of Regents, and serving locally here on our School Board.

While a law student at UC Berkeley, I had the very special opportunity to serve as the one student member of the UC Board of Regents, where I fought against fee increases and pushed through a successful measure that strengthened loan forgiveness programs for public interest programs in the University's professional schools. As your next State Senator, I will work to ensure all Californians have access to affordable, quality higher education opportunities.

As someone who grew up in this community hiking weekly throughout my boyhood and youth in the Santa Monica Mountains and swimming during the summers in the Santa Monica Bay, I became passionate about protecting and preserving our open spaces and our environmental resources. As a Regent, I also spearheaded the passage of a policy change that increased the green buildings standards of the UC system. Subsequently as a School Board Member, I have promoted environmentally-sound practices for all new school construction projects, as well as green-friendly initiatives throughout the District. As your next State Senator, I am also committed to protecting open space, reducing carbon emissions, promoting the development and use of green technologies and renewable energy, protecting our water supply, putting a stop to hydraulic fracking, and creating clean energy jobs and green transit alternatives.

My time as a School Board Member has coincided with one of the worst economic periods in our nation's history, and much of my focus has centered on our successful efforts to strengthen our school district's finances and to protect key programs that provide every student the opportunity to succeed. Working closely with the school district in 2010, I also spearheaded the launch of the Spark Program in Los Angeles, a nonprofit that connects hundreds of disadvantaged middle school students with life-changing apprenticeships. As your next State Senator, I will continue to fight for a quality public education system in our State that includes technical education and job-training programs that prepare youth for the jobs of tomorrow.

I am committed to making the District I grew up in a better place to start a business, thrive, play, and grow, get a great education, raise a family, and retire. I'll fight for better funding for our schools, for more jobs for our residents, and for the greater preservation of our open spaces. I also promise to stay attuned to the needs and concerns of our district, emphasizing the constituency services that help improve folks' quality of life.

I am pleased to say my lifelong local roots and my track record of leadership and working experience have earned me endorsements from organizations such as the Sierra Club and the California League of Conservation Voters and leaders across the political spectrum – state leaders such as Senators Fran Pavley, Tom Hayden, and Alan Sieroty and many of our most well-respected community officials, including nearly every mayor in the District, veteran L.A. County Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky, Don Knabe, and Yvonne Burke, Congressmen Henry Waxman, Tony Beilenson, Howard Berman, and Mel Levine, as well as former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan. In Santa Monica, I am proud to have been endorsed by nearly every elected official in the city, and the town's most respected institutions, from Renters Rights to our Police and Firefighters. My former opponents in the Primary Election – Manhattan Beach Mayor Amy Howorth, attorney Barbi Appelquist, and Dr. Vito Imbasciani – have also endorsed me.

I am tremendously committed to improving the quality of life in this District, and would be so honored to have your support on Election Day. I believe that my deep and enduring roots in the District combined with a demonstrable track record of success in bringing people together to improve how government works make me the better candidate to take on the challenges of serving this District as its next Senator.

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