Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

SM School Board Member Ben Allen, One Of 2 Joining State Senate Race


Sandra Fluke now has some Democratic competition in the race to fill the South Bay's seat in the state Senate.

Ben Allen, a Santa Monica school board member, jumped into the race Monday, while Betsy Butler, a former state Assembly member, has told supporters she plans to run.

Allen, who is from Santa Monica, said he enters the race with a strong Westside base, having been elected to the school board in 2008 and 2012.

The new 28th Senate District starts in the Palos Verdes Peninsula and hugs the coast until Pacific Palisades. In the northern part of the district, it turns eastward, encompassing Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and part of Hollywood. The district is now represented by Ted Lieu, who is running for Congress in the seat being vacated by Rep. Henry Waxman, who announced he would retire Jan. 30.

"I am not jumping around," said Allen, an attorney. "I have stayed in the same place and really gotten engaged at a very organic level in local government and schools and the community. I think that will resonate with people."

At a community meeting held Sunday to determine which candidate would receive the state Democratic Party endorsement, Allen said he finished second, behind Butler but ahead of Fluke.

Ilissa Gold, a delegate present at the meeting, said no candidate met the threshold to receive the party endorsement. She said there will be another chance for the candidates at the March 7-9 meeting of the state Democratic Party at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

In Allen's announcement Monday, he touted endorsements from county Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and state Sen. Fran Pavley.

"I love this community," Allen said. "I grew up here and I love giving back to it. I love being engaged in trying to find creative solutions to our community's and state's problems. The state Senate is a great place to bring my perspective, my energy and my experience."

Butler had previously announced she would try again for the state Assembly - she still has a snazzy campaign website for the 62nd Assembly seat - but at the Sunday endorsement meeting of Democratic activists, she told the group she would be running for Senate. Her campaign spokesman did not return a call Monday.


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