April 17, 2024 #1 Local News, Forum, Information and Event Source for Venice Beach, California.

Column: Venice’s Favorite Son

Nico Ruderman offers real solutions in his election bid to get to Sacramento as our new Assembly member!

By Nick Antonicello

I first interviewed Venice local Nico Ruderman last year when he sought a seat as a community officer on the Venice Neighborhood Council where he was part of a freshmen class of new members dedicated to change.

Ruderman then stood up and stood tall in his leadership role as a primary proponent in the recall of Councilman Mike Bonin which resulted in some 26,000 valid signatures, 95% of the number of petitions required to spur a special election that ultimately saw Bonin drop his reelection efforts and instead opt for retirement from public office!

Now Ruderman has entered the race for the unexpired term of former Assembly member Autumn Burke who recently resigned which her vacancy will be filled in this special contest on April 5th.

For Nico Ruderman, a Venice community advocate turned organizer and now a candidate for the legislature, the political bug has caught him by surprise.

The 43-year old Venice resident, father, husband, life-long Democrat, union member and small business owner, it is an evolution of public service that has happened virtually overnight!

Calling his assembly race “building a plane as we fly it,” he believes the effort is going well as he depends on the friends and volunteers he cultivated in his VNC race as well as the recall crusade that drew national media attention.

And Ruderman believes the principles and foundations of his two previous races still exist in his race for the California legislature where Democrats enjoy a super majority in both the senate and the general assembly.

“Things are bad in California. People and businesses are headed down the wrong path. I feel more comfortable in running myself versus the recall which was a unique experience and message.”

Ruderman believes the issues are apparent and obvious:

  • Quality of life concerns
  • Public Safety and high crime
  • Homelessness and the issues of drug & alcohol addiction and mental illness

Ruderman believes a statewide “Homeless Czar” is required to stem the increase in homelessness that is rampant and out-of-control.

“We need real time data. A database is required. We need to stop guessing how large this emergency crisis has become.”

“We must invest in mental health services. The dollars spent must be centralized and consolidated into a single, successful effort all working in unison to end this crisis,” offered Ruderman who’s wife is a physician.

Ruderman believes the current “housing first” model does not work and is broken.

“Placing someone in a hotel room is no solution. We are moving people, not helping them.”

“I want a full accounting on how dollars are being spent. Service providers need to be held accountable. There needs to be a vetting process and results will be my priority,” offered Ruderman.

“Building a $830,0000 unit of housing is not practical.”

Ruderman prefers “shared housing” because it removes individuals from the streets and creates what he called a ”peer support” community.

Ruderman also supports in-patient drug treatment and reconnecting the homeless with family members.

“We need to provide that plane ticket home if that gets someone off the street and with a loved one.”

Ruderman believes “real in-patient mental healthcare” is mandatory to get things manageable again.

Ruderman believes there is a public safety role with social services in this battle to end homelessness.

“If we can compile the data we currently don’t have, that will go a long way in creating a foundation for changing the conditions we have today.”

Ruderman’s philosophy is simple, and that is to fix problems, not apply failed, Band-Aid approaches.

Ruderman currently leads the field in dollars raised, having indicated his fundraising efforts have reached the $100,000 plateau with just weeks before the April 5th contest.

Ruderman stressed his union membership and credentials as to why he makes sense to voters and working families.

“I am running against career politicians. I believe I am the only current and active union member. I stood on a picket line multiple times. I’m a fourth generation union member and I’ll stand with labor first,” said the candidate proudly.

Because his business is entertainment, he will seek increased safety protections in the workplace for all citizens.

Ruderman sees his candidacy as a friend to the coastline as well as the environment.

“Our coastline attracts tourism and people. We need to protect this economic engine from oil spills and other pollutants. Keeping our beaches clean and safe matters.”

Ruderman said preparing for the 2028 Summer Olympics will be a priority as well.

“Mega events like the Olympics are important to the district. We saw the effect of hosting the Super Bowl it had on our economy. We need to provide the right environment for tourism. I’m a political outsider that is not part of any political establishment. I know what it takes to be successful in business and in I’ll practice the same in my public service.”

Ruderman was honored to claim the support of Councilman Joe Buscaino who is now a candidate for mayor of Los Angeles as well as James Murez, a candidate for councilman from Venice and colleague on the VNC.

Getting back to the issue of homelessness, Ruderman said “we can build hospitals and provide the beds” that are required.

“We are in crisis. We need to build big and quickly.”

Ruderman targeted Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco as sites for new facility construction dedicated to mental illness.

Ruderman sees himself as a “moderate” who demands results.

“We need to control excessive spending that lacks results. We need to remove our economy’s dependence on fossil fuels. The Gas Tax hits working class families the hardest.”

Ruderman said he would investigate all options in terms of increasing revenues and has been speaking to former California Senator Gloria Romero for guidance in this race for this open and vacant assembly seat. Romero is a local, and daughter is Soledad Ursua, a fellow member of the Venice Neighborhood Council.

Ruderman said he will be reaching out to California Speaker Anthony Rendon and Majority Leader Eloise Reyes should he be successful for this $114,000 a year position that includes a $211 per diem.

State issues such as Propositions 13 & 98 are also policies Ruderman is examining in this sprint to the April 5th election.

“There is much to do in a very short window. I’m optimistic my campaign is moving forward in a positive way, each and every day.”

Nick Antonicello is a longtime Venetian and covers issue of politics and government as they apply to Venice community. He can be reached at (310) 621-3775 or via e-mail at nantoni@mindspring.com

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