Fran Pavley’s replacement for State Assemblyperson will be decided in the June primary when the Democratic candidate is chosen.
In a district that Democrats like to reserve for women, Barry Groveman is betting that his can-do, get-it-done attitude and record will overcome gender politics. Running primarily against SMMUSD school board President Julia Brownley and community activist candidate Kelly Hayes-Raitt, Groveman will be facing two experienced and energetic candidates. The other contending candidates in the race are Jonathan Levey, who is noted for having raised a lot of money from the legal community and might possibly siphon votes from Groveman, and Shawn Casey O’Brien, who is advocating strongly for the disability community.
Though Groveman does not have the inviting smile of Raitt or the personal warmth of Brownley, the demographics in this race favor Groveman, as a majority of the voters live on his side of the district. Most likely Brownley and Raitt will split the Santa Monica-Pacific Palisades-Malibu vote, leaving the Valley side as ripe pickings for the principal co-author of Proposition 65, “The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act.”
Groveman is the mayor of Calabasas and his name recognition is far higher in Oxnard, Woodland Hills, Encino, Agoura Hills and Tarzana then it is in Santa Monica. Groveman will need to spend $600,000 to win the 41st Assembly seat and is prepared to spend $150,000 of his own money to accomplish that task. Brownley and Raitt do not have those kinds of personal resources to put into this race, and it will be a factor. Brownley has the support of SMRR, most of the unions and much of the Democratic Party, so she will probably be the more formidable opponent.
I had lunch with Groveman at Fred Deni’s Back on Broadway in order to get a sense of who he really is and why he wants to serve in the Assembly. He is silver-haired, thin, well-dressed (no tie) and as the friend who joined us said, “Better looking then your photos.” And he could talk, regaling me with his personal accomplishments in the public arena. He told me of the 20 corporate polluters he put in jail when he worked for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office and how he made them run ads telling of their environmental sins.
Groveman has spent much of his legal career working with government in the environmental protection area, in particular, forcing corporate polluters to pay the full price for their misdeeds and criminalizing habitual polluters. He participated in the first legal actions that helped Santa Monica win its battle against MTBE pollution of its drinking water and worked closely with Heal the Bay founder Dorothy Green.
But that is not all he is focused on. As one might imagine for someone wanting to be a legislator from the Los Angeles area, traffic is a big issue. Recently, Groveman visited Houston and found how they were able to reduce traffic jams by removing vehicles in accidents from the road in less then six minutes. Houston has contracted out sections of the freeway and has performance reviews of the contractors. Groveman likes to visit other cities to get ideas on how to fix our problems.
In any campaign for public office, “labeling the other guy” is a favorite tactic. He has been called a “pro-business” Democrat, which can have negative connotations within the political class, though it is not certain voters would be opposed to it. Groveman is also concerned that the corporations he has helped hold accountable for their environmental misdeeds will fund an independent expenditure campaign against him. “They are big, powerful, have lots of money, and don’t want me writing legislation that is consumer friendly,” he says.
Groveman believes there is one issue voters should consider above all. “Who do you want to be YOUR lawyer in Sacramento? I know how to fight for the right things and how to get things done.” Groveman points out that he is the only candidate to have written legislation, with a demonstrated track record working within government to get big things written into law.
Some of Groveman’s key endorsements include Senator Dianne Feinstein; Sheriff Lee Baca; Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo; most mayors throughout the district, including Santa Monica’s Robert Holbrook and Santa Monica Councilmember Herb Katz.
Universal pre-school in California
Increasing per pupil spending in K-12
Reducing traffic congestion with innova-
The plan to put solar panels on new hous-
Amending Proposition 13 on the com-
Creating an inventory of all roads in
Raising the minimum wage
Eliminating Community College fees
Eradicating school vouchers