Esther Kang

Mayor of Manhattan Beach enters race for Lieu’s senate seat

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Manhattan Beach Mayor Amy Howorth outside her Tree Section residence. Photo by Esther Kang

Manhattan Beach Mayor Amy Howorth outside her Tree Section residence. Photo by Esther Kang

Manhattan Beach Mayor Amy Howorth has thrown her hat into the ring to become the next Senator of District 26.

Howorth, who officially announced her candidacy last Monday, said the decision was “quite sudden” but she is in it to win it.

“I’m working really hard to make up for lost time here,” said Howorth, a moderate Democrat.

When Congressman Henry Waxman announced his retirement on Jan. 30, state Senator Ted Lieu chose to run for the congressional seat. That in turn unleashed a crowded race to represent the newly drawn 26th Senate District, which encompasses the Palos Verdes Peninsula all the way up to Beverly Hills and West Hollywood.

The field of contenders, all Democrats, currently includes women’s rights activist and attorney Sandra Fluke, Santa Monica school board member Ben Allen, Los Angeles physician Vito Imbasciani and former state Assemblymember Betsy Butler.

Howorth, who served nearly two terms on the Manhattan Beach Unified school board before being elected onto the Manhattan Beach City Council in 2011, said she had no intention of running for higher office until she saw the list of candidates.

“I looked at them and I thought, ‘Wait a minute, I’ve been an elected official for 10 years. I’ve been serving this community, being responsible for taxpayers’ money and being a real leader, and I don’t see anybody else as qualified as I am in this field,’” she recalled. “’I’m gonna get in there.'”

If elected, Howorth intends to carry on Sen. Lieu’s legacy of providing a “balanced voice,” she said. Her platform focuses on education, which she also sees as an economic issue, as well as environmental issues and job creation in the tech sector. She supports the cultivation of a “Silicon Beach” in Venice, where technology incubator firms are gathering.

“I think we have incredible potential here,” she said.

Councilman David Lesser, who has served alongside Howorth since March 2011, said he was surprised by her announcement but is supportive of her candidacy in spite of the challenges that may arise.

“Amy has an extraordinary ability to multitask,” Lesser said. “There undoubtedly will be challenges, but I think she can do it.”

So far, Howorth’s candidacy has earned the endorsements of familiar figures in the community, including her fellow council members as well as several current and former Manhattan Beach Unified school board members. Howorth has also garnered the support of Redondo Beach Mayor Steve Aspel and Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi.

“I stand by Amy 100 percent on her run to become the next senator for SD-26 because she lives, represents and understands the issues in the South Bay,” Muratsuchi said. “I support the South Bay, so I support Amy Howorth.”

Since her announcement, “everything changed immediately,” Howorth said. She’s on the phone from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. for her campaign. She’s constantly out and about meeting people. This is all in thanks to the unfailing support from her husband Mark and two sons Ari and Jack, she said.

Howorth, who began her nine-month mayorship in December, said she fully believes she can prioritize her service to Manhattan Beach during the campaign. But if she is elected in November, she would be sworn in as senator next January and leave her City Council term a year early.

“I look at it as I’m campaigning, I’m mayor, and I’m not doing much else,” Howorth said. “I love serving on the council and I think the residents know that. Mostly what I’ve heard is that it’s great. We need somebody up in Sacramento to represent us. It’s only good for Manhattan Beach if a local person goes on.”

“I want to win and I do think that I am the best candidate,” she added. “And I’d love the support of Manhattan Beach and the entire South Bay.”

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