Tenant activists in Santa Monica can expect to receive strong support from Tom Hayden's Campaign California, a new statewide political organization that has replaced the troubled Campaign for Economic Democracy.
Hayden said Campaign California will continue CED's work on behalf of rent control and other liberal political causes in Santa Monica. He added that the new political group will take over CED's Santa Monica headquarters.
"We will continue to be active in Santa Monica politics," Hayden said Tuesday. "That means through our canvass and through contributions and through local organizing, because our roots are in Santa Monica."
Work on Toxics Issue
The Democratic assemblyman from Santa Monica announced the creation of Campaign California at a press conference Tuesday. The group will work in support of a toxic-discharge initiative, Proposition 65, on the November ballot. Hayden said Campaign California also will fight for better public education and will campaign for progressive Democrats.
The group's long-term goals are more ambitious. Hayden said he expects Campaign California to play a role in shaping Democratic Party politics. He said the organization will try to enlist the support of the "baby boomers," people between the ages of 21 and 40, who are disenchanted with politics.
"We hope we can speak to their needs," Hayden said. "This generation could be the key to politics, but politics is not key to this generation."
Campaign California also represents a shift in priorities for Hayden. Whereas the Campaign for Economic Democracy focused on grass-roots issues and local elections, Campaign California is expected to target chiefly statewide and national issues. Hayden said CED, which was formed in 1977 and funded largely by profits from his wife Jane Fonda's physical fitness products, had run its course.
He called the group an "outgrowth of the 1960s" and conceded that its radical stands against corporate America no longer mesh with his philosophy that the "entrepreneurial spirit" can co-exist with social responsibility.
Several Offices Closed
The change comes after a yearlong effort to reshape CED. During that time the group announced that it was closing several local offices in California. But Hayden said his commitment to Santa Monica politics has never wavered.
Santa Monica Councilman Dennis Zane, a tenant activist and former CED leader, said he is convinced that Campaign California will be supportive.
"It's a positive direction," Zane said. "There are always regrets because I feel a certain amount of personal attachment to CED. But there are new opportunities. This is the best way to use our talents and resources."
Zane and others affiliated with Hayden have played a vital role in Santa Monica politics for nearly 10 years. The group's biggest victory came in 1979 when CED helped engineer passage of the city's rugged rent control law by providing a considerable amount of manpower, money and political expertise.
CED loyalists who are affiliated with a group known as Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights hold all of the seats on the Santa Monica Rent Control Board.
They also held a majority of the City Council seats until 1984, when one of the tenant activist council members, Dolores Press, failed to qualify for the ballot. The group, which still enjoys strong support from the city's sizable tenant population, will try to regain control of City Hall in November.
Zane said those plans should not be affected by the birth of Campaign California. "I'm sure we'll get some kind of financial support and some skilled political advice," Zane said. "We may also get some canvassers."
Mayor to Be Opposed
Mayor Christine E. Reed, who is affiliated with a rival faction known as the All Santa Monica Coalition, will be opposed by tenant activists in the November election. Reed said CED was a major force in Santa Monica politics.
Based on Zane's assessment, Reed said she expects Campaign California to play a similar role in future elections. "This is a well-funded political unit that is basically functioning under the sponsorship of an Assembly member," Reed said. "It's awesome to be up against something like that."
In 1984, CED pumped about $15,000 into the coffers of candidates affiliated with Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights. Zane predicted that the same will occur this year. Tenant activist Connie Jenkins, a board member of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, agreed that support will be strong.
"Santa Monica is somewhat unique," Jenkins said. "It's our home. It represents a significant part of Hayden's district. So obviously (Campaign California) will retain a keen interest in what goes on in Santa Monica."
Staff Stays the Same
Many of the faces will remain the same. Jack Nicholl, who served as director of CED, will retain that position with Campaign California. He said the same eight-member staff will continue to staff the Santa Monica office.
The organization will continue to depend on Jane Fonda Workout revenues for about half of its $1.6 million annual budget, with the rest expected from private contributions.