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When Congress Woman Jane Harman announced her resignation earlier this year, two of California's political heavyweights moved quickly to try and position themselves as the frontrunner for the suddenly vacant Congressional seat.  However, many members of the 36th District were excited because they believed Harman's absence would create an opening for Marcy Winograd, a progressive candidate who had twice run spirited campaigns to unseat the billionaire incumbent.  We covered Winograd's most recent effort back in October of last year.

5_18_10_wino.jpgWinograd talks to volunteers at the Bikerowave. Photo: Bikeside

While she hasn't held elected office, she has developed a reputation with bicyclists and environmentalists as a supporter of green and active transportation options.  In her last race against Harman, Winograd visited the Bikerowave bicycling co-op several times and earned the endorsement of Bikeside.

However, just because Harman is out of the picture, doesn't mean Winograd will cruise to victory with Los Angeles City Council Woman Janice Hahn, Secretary of State Debra Bowen and Redondo Beach Mayor Mike Gin considered the front-runners.  Never the less, Winograd shows not just a command of transportation issues in answering our candidate survey and a coherent vision applying her progressive beliefs to improving the transportation picture in the diverse 36th District.

General philosophy:

1.     Describe your daily commute.

I’ve been on leave for the past month to campaign for the Special Election on May 17th., but when I am not on the campaign trail I’m teaching English to seniors at Crenshaw High School in South Los Angeles, where I sometimes work into the night to attend meetings with parents.  I commute in my car from Ocean Park, which is 26-miles round-trip .  On the weekends, I avoid my car, preferring power-walking with friends and leisure-walking with my daughter’s dog, a sweet chow who takes it slow because she’s almost blind.  (The traffic freaks her out!)  As a commuter, I understand the significant challenges we face in our quest to reduce traffic congestion and emissions, and I will work hard in Washington to direct funding to projects, such as the 30/10 mass transit initiative and a master bicycle plan, that will get us out of cars and into a sustainable form of transportation that encourages energy independence.

2.     What role do you think the federal government plays in providing funds for “active transportation” projects, i.e. projects that will improve safety and access for bicyclists and pedestrians?  How about projects that would improve access to transit stations and bus stops?

The federal government plays a vital role in active transportation projects, as well as projects that would improve access and safety for bicyclists and pedestrians. An increase in the federal gas tax, which has remained stagnant for almost two decades, could help pay for light rail systems, as well as municipal grants to make cities bike-friendly with bike-sharing programs, bike lanes, bike-racks on buses and streets, and bike boxes- roadway features Portland uses to improve bike safety at intersections and to avoid collisions.

Currently, only a fraction of the transportation bill is spent biking or walking – and we shouldn’t overlook the power of a morning walk to lift our spirits and shed extra pounds.  With America facing increased obesity, walking becomes crucial for those who can’t afford a gym membership or even a new bicycle.  I’d like to see more par courses and open green space, so that residents of our cities can more easily exercise.  Too many of my students feel imprisoned in their homes, wary of the street and limited in access to parks and open space.  We need more parks.Ultimately, in order to create modern green, livable cities, we must create a seamless network of bicycling and walking routes allowing residents to go from home to work, schools and recreational centers. Increasing non-motorized transportation creates healthy communities and healthy residents alike.

3.     What is your overall understanding on the most urgent transportation needs in your district? And how will you address them?

One of the biggest transportation issues is the jet pollution from Santa Monica Airport.  This airport was never designed for jets and has no buffer zone to protect residents from the jet traffic, noise, and pollution dangerously close to their homes.  During my last congressional race, I wrote a pledge which asked signers to refrain from flying jets into or out of the Santa Monica Airport.  All of the assembly candidates signed the pledge, which was eventually adopted by Concerned Residents Against Air Pollution.

Still, the jets continue – as does the organizing work.  On Earth Day, I will participate in a picket of local flight schools that ignore the safety and environmental concerns of nearby residents. We must work on building a 21st Century transportation system, including light rail and mass transit lines to increase the vitality of our communities and reduce commuter traffic. We should also increase the number of fuel-efficient buses with dedicated bus lanes. All of these initiatives require smart planning that incorporates access for pedestrians and bicyclists. I will work at the Federal level to allocate a greater portion of funds for these projects. I will work to tax oil companies, now enjoying windfall profits, to invest in public transportation, develop gas-saving car technology, assist the poor with their energy bills, and create a national gas reserve. Creating, sustainable well-planned communities will help us reduce our dependence on fossil fuels for a healthy, peaceful future.

Unfortunately, recent budget cut negotiations in Washington DC put funding for development of a much needed Los Angeles-to-San Francisco high speed rail project on the chopping block.

Ultimately, we need to organize in Congress, to stand with the Congressional Progressive Caucus and expand that caucus, to call for a reallocation of our national resources.

My platform – Jobs, with Peace – challenges the current war economy, envisioning something far more positive and productive for our work force.  Rather than spending almost a trillion dollars each year on wars, occupations, and new weapons systems, we should be investing our resources in addressing human needs for jobs, health care, education, transportation, and housing.

I will vote against further war supplementals that extend the U.S. occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan – voting only for funds that bring our troops home.

4.     If you could change one thing about transportation in the 36th Congressional District with a wave of a magic wand, what would it be?

I would modernize transportation so that our emphasis was on mass transit, bicycling and walking -- rather than road and freeway infrastructure.   With the wave of my wand, I would transform weapons factories into companies that build green mass transit systems.  According to a study conducted at the University of Massachusetts, a billion dollars invested in mass transit produces twice the number of jobs as the equivalent investment in weapons-manufacturing.  Post-Cold War conversion was entertained under previous presidential administrations, but the political will was not there to follow through.  In Congress, I will provide leadership on transitioning from a war economy to a life-affirming job-rich economy.

5.     What is America Fast Forward?  Do you support the concept of America Fast Forward and what would you do to make it a reality?

America Fast Forward is a plan that allows communities to issue bonds for local jobs initiatives with a tax credit in order to secure favorable financing terms. It will create a cost-effective source of capital and will stimulate infrastructure spending, while empowering local communities to identify what jobs best serve the priorities of their residents – all without adding to the federal budget. America Fast Forward is a win-win proposal for America, for small businesses and for the residents of Congressional District 36. I will work to advance this plan and to champion the principles of America Fast Forward in Congress.

Locally, our 30/10 initiative comes under the umbrella of America Fast Forward.  Here, the idea is to use long-term revenue from the Measure R sales tax as collateral for long-term bonds and a federal loan to build twelve mass transit projects in 10 years, rather than 30.

Specific Projects:

6.     What is your stand on Green line South Bay extension (to Torrance)? Will you pledge support to help win Federal funding/loans for construction?

Yes, I pledge my support in winning Federal funding for construction of the Green Line South Bay extension to Torrance. Based on the route selected, it’s estimated that we’ll have 3,300 to 5,800 daily riders. This is an enormous help in reducing both peak and off-peak traffic, and will improve the quality of life for residents in Congressional District 36. Rail transit is very popular with discretionary travelers -- people that can drive but choose public transportation instead when presented with a rail transit option.

7.     Do you support the extension of the Westside Subway all the way to Santa Monica?  Would you support more federal funding for that project?

I support the extension of the Westside Subway all the way to Santa Monica and would support more federal funding for that project. We urgently need to reduce traffic congestion, reduce air pollution, and reduce our consumption of gasoline. The impacts on peace, the economy and the climate are interrelated.

8.     What is your stand on LAX expansion?

I support LAX modernization, not expansion.  Residents living near the airport have been fighting expansion for years, both in and out of the courts, because the construction of runways close to residential neighborhoods jeopardizes health and safety.  I support Councilman Bill Rosendahl’s pledge which includes the following:

9.     Recently, Metro (aka Los Angeles County MTA) cut 305,000 hours of bus service.  What will you do to ensure that federal funding goes not only to capital projects, such as #1, but also to increase bus and rail service frequency?

Unlike other candidates, I refuse corporate money – which means my allegiance is to the people of the 36th congressional district, not to car manufacturers or oil companies or weapons manufacturers. An important part of my platform, which may be seen in detail on,  is that I’ll fight to cut military spending so we are able to fund jobs in mass transit and stimulate economic growth here at home.  I will also work to provide income-tax credits for passes to ride mass transit —buses, trains, and subways, thus reducing carbon emissions from private motor vehicles, and provide income-tax credits for citizens to purchase high-efficiency motor vehicles that cut carbon emissions. Our transportation budget must reflect renewed national priorities designed to benefit all working Americans and create a sustainable future for our children.

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