Mike Gin For Congress

March 23, 2011
by Sascha Bush, The Beach Reporter

Beach city Republicans are three strong on the ballot vying for a seat in the upcoming Congressional race.

Both Redondo Beach Mayor Mike Gin and City Attorney Mike Webb have declared candidacy for the open 36th Congressional District seat, left vacant by former congresswoman Jane Harman, who resigned last month.

Hermosa Beach councilman Patrick “Kit” Bobko is also in the running.

Governor Jerry Brown this week set the special election for May 17, but the race quickly crowded with contenders soon after Harman announced her Feb. 28 resignation.

Several prominent Democrats, including Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn and Secretary of State Debra Bowen, have already begun campaigning, as well as Marcy Winograd — who last November earned 41 percent of the vote against Harman.

Harman (D-Venice) had represented the 36th District — spanning Venice Beach to San Pedro — for the better part of the last two decades. She resigned last month to join a D.C. think tank, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Although political insiders speculate that the 36th District will again go to the Democrats, Mayor Mike Gin, who announced his candidacy earlier this month, considers himself a unique enough candidate to appeal to both parties.

Neither a prototypical Republican nor politician, Gin — who is pro-choice, gay, leans sometimes “green” and always asks God’s blessing on the community during each City Council meeting — believes voters in the 36th district are more interested in problem-solving than partisan politics.

“It’s one of the reasons this race is important to me. We need to bring more of a problem-solving approach to the Congress and not be so focused on those labels of ‘conservative,’ ‘progressive’ and so forth,” said Gin.

“As a mayor, you are required to work with individuals and groups that are very diverse to come to consensus, to move issues forward, and I think that is something we need more of. Everyone comes from a different perspective. Being able to bridge those different perspectives is something I’ve been fortunate to be able to do and hope to bring to Congress if I get the honor of being elected.”

Twice elected Redondo’s mayor, Gin was first elected to local office as councilman in 1995. His resume includes experience in aerospace engineering, and more recently, concurrently working as field deputy to L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe.

Gin’s mayoral experience is what could give him the leg up on the competition; other candidates comprise councilmembers, attorneys and other professionals.
“Being a mayor is a different role than being a councilmember. I’m able to see directly how the effects of the state’s (decisions) come to our local community, how the federal government’s policies can affect our local community as well,” said Gin.

“Having been mayor for six years, I’ve had the opportunity to serve on the United States’ Conference of Mayors advisory board, so for the past five years I’ve had the opportunity to work directly with other members of Congress and federal officials on bringing resources back to my community. And to lobby for issues that are important to the local community and to Redondo in particular.”

Maintaining a balanced city budget in Redondo Beach, in the face of an unbalanced state budget, is a point in his favor, Gin said.

“There’s no question the government needs to learn to live within its means, and that’s why in Redondo Beach we’ve made significant cuts over the past two years. We’ve asked for labor concessions from each of our employee unions, and they came to the table and they partnered with us on those cuts. (Those cuts) kept our budgets balanced,” he said.

On a state and national level, he explained, “We need to approach deficit-cutting and our budget-cutting in a real, deliberate and thoughtful manner. If we’re able to create more jobs, in the district and throughout our country, this in turn will help the deficit problem in a very holistic manner as well.”

Attacking the deficit and job creation are two of Gin’s main areas of focus should he be elected to Congress. The South Bay’s history of aerospace and defense industry development puts much of the 36th district in a good position for ramping up the local economy that can further help on a national level with safety and security, he explained.

“I understand the importance of how small businesses are the economic engine of our local communities,” Gin added, and how the success of those small businesses radiates outward onto a state and national level.

Vis a vis the governor’s proposed five-year tax extension, Gin is not aboard that plan.

“That’s not appropriate. It extends considerably past his first term and certainly past a number of folks in the legislature, and that in and of itself needs to be modified. I cannot support something of that length,” he said.

“We’re starting to see a little bit of a recovery in certain areas. It will be important to do what we can to ensure we not inhibit that recovery. Certainly taxes and tax breaks affect our economy, our local economy and small businesses as well.”

But being mayor of a quiet South Bay city doesn’t give Gin the voter advantage over more recognizable — and Democrat — candidates such as Hahn and Winograd.

Gin trusts that voters are now are more likely to familiarize themselves with issues and candidates rather than simply check the box by the name that they know.

“Voters in the 36th district … have really been engaged in terms of listening to the candidates. They will look at the qualities and qualifications of each candidate and with that I think I have some very unique qualifications,” said Gin.

“The great thing about our democratic process is everybody has an opportunity to campaign. That’s where I think the voters of the 36th district are discerning; they really will take the time to get to know each of the candidates individually.”

To help, Gin already has the endorsement of several local politicos, such as Hermosa Beach mayor Pete Tucker, Torrance mayor Frank Scotto and Redondo Beach councilmen Pat Aust and Matt Kilroy.

For more information on Gin, visit www.mikegin.com.

Redondo’s other Republican candidate, City Attorney Mike Webb, was not available for an interview at press time. The Beach Reporter will be publishing a profile about his candidacy next week.

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