Ben Allen
Ben Allen

WESTSIDE — This year’s political races are heating up for Santa Monicans.

Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education member Ben Allen announced his candidacy for State Senate Monday.

Rep Henry Waxman’s (D-Santa Monica) announcement last month that he would retire at the end of his 20th term tripped a political chain reaction that, among other things, drew current State Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Santa Monica) into a race to fill his seat.

Allen had initially told the Daily Press that Waxman’s seat would be of interest to him but Monday he announced his intentions to fill Lieu’s seat.

He enters the race with two significant endorsements: County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and State Sen. Fran Pavley.

Yaroslavsky, who is termed out this year, has known Allen for more than 20 years, he said in a statement.

“He has selflessly devoted himself to our community,” Yaroslavsky said. “He has the vision, experience, intelligence and temperament to represent us.”

Pavley lauded Allen as a “pragmatic problem solver.”

“His passion for education, demonstrated by his years of service on a school board and in his teaching at UCLA School of Law, will be a valuable asset for our legislature,” she said.

Allen was elected as the top vote-getter in the 2008 and 2012 school board elections.

“Of course, remember, that half of the state’s budget is in education,” Allen told the Daily Press. “It’s an enormously important part of the state’s work so all of my education work, both on the school board and teaching, is very relevant to working at the state level.”

Sandra Fluke, who made national news for her testimony in front of Congress pushing for employer-provided health insurance to include birth control, announced last week that she also plans to run for the seat.

Allen told the Daily Press that he, like Lieu, supports City Hall’s lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration over the future of the Santa Monica Airport.

“I’m excited that they feel there’s some good momentum,” he said.

Allen was born and raised in Santa Monica and went to public schools in the district.

In expanding beyond education policy, Allen is interested in, among other things, the environment and job creation.

“I grew up swimming in the Santa Monica Bay and hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains, so preserving and protecting the bay and the mountains are very meaningful to me,” he said.

As a law student at UC Berkeley, Allen was a student member of the University of California’s Board of Regents where, he said, he pushed through a major sustainability measure.

Allen is an attorney with the law firm Richardson & Patel LLP and a lecturer at UCLA Law School.

“Certainly education has been at the heart of my work,” he told the Daily Press. “And there’s a lot of experiences that I’ve had that I can build off of as I’m working with various issues relating to the state.”

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