Among the six candidates running in the 44th Assembly District primary June 3, Neal Donner and Carol Berman have the best chances of emerging victorious. Donner, a Libertarian, and Berman, of the Peace and Freedom Party, both are unopposed and need only one vote apiece to qualify for the general election.
The going gets a lot tougher in November, however, when Donner and Berman will go head-to-head against the major-party candidates. But while neither is considered likely to win the general election, they said they are dedicated to advancing the positions of the Libertarian and Peace and Freedom factions.
Donner, 43, lives in West Los Angeles and works as a private violin teacher. He said he is running to promote the Libertarian principle of reducing the role of government and "maximizing" the individual liberties of citizens.
"I feel that the principles of the Libertarian Party need to be represented in every election," said Donner, a native of Germany who worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia from 1964 to 1966. "Eventually, they will be taken seriously. They are already being borrowed by both major parties."
Donner said he opposes pay raises for teachers unless the raises are approved by voters. He also maintains that unions are demanding too much money. Donner is against rent control and victimless-crime laws, but said he supports "economic and sexual" freedom, as well as relaxed drug laws.
Berman, 45, the Peace and Freedom Party candidate, is a free-lance writer who has lived in Venice for 25 years. Berman said she entered the race because she supports the party's uncompromising support for the environment and low-income people.
Berman is anti-development and said she prides herself on her opposition to major commercial projects in Venice. "When someone calls me a troublemaker for developers, my heart just swells with pride," Berman said. "When people start talking about compromise, the first thing that gets compromised is livability for low-income people and beach access for visitors."
Berman was an early member of the Venice Town Council, a citizen group that opposes development. She said she has never run for anything before "except a bus." "This is a great American experience," Berman said.
The 44th District, which includes Malibu, Santa Monica and much of West Los Angeles, is represented by two-term Assemblyman Tom Hayden (D-Santa Monica). Hayden, who is considered a strong favorite for reelection, is opposed by businessman J. Alex Cota in the Democratic primary. The Republican primary pits economist Bill Mundell against businesswoman Gloria J. Stout.