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Candidates for Assembly weigh in

The race in the newly created 10th Assembly District to replace termed-out Assemblymember Jared Huffman has become a tight one, pitting two Democratic candidates against each other to represent Petaluma as a result of the top-two vote-getters from the primary moving on to the November election.

Current Assemblymember Michael Allen, who represents Santa Rosa but recently moved to San Rafael, is a former union leader currently in his first two-year Assembly term. Allen has garnered considerable support among the Democratic leaders in Sacramento and serves as the assistant majority floor leader.

Challenger Marc Levine is relatively new to politics, currently serving his first term as a San Rafael city councilman and advising a local internet healthcare startup in the private sector.

The two candidates have engaged in a contentious race, taking shots at one another over everything from Allen's recent participation in the Sonoma County Democratic Party endorsements of three Petaluma city council candidates, to Allen's assertion that Levine is not truly loyal to the Democratic Party because of his appearance at a Republican campaign event. Underneath the backbiting, both candidates are well-versed in issues that affect Petaluma, such as Highway 101 widening, pension costs, redevelopment funds and the growth of Indian gaming casinos.

Allen, who has aligned himself with the Petaluma "Progressive" faction and actively endorsed — and been endorsed by — City Council candidates Alicia Kae Herries, Jason Davies and Tiffany Ren?, said that if elected his focus for Petaluma will continue to be the procurement of lost redevelopment funds for the completion of the Rainier Crosstown Connector, and working with state leaders and CalTrans to finish the Highway 101 widening.

Levine, who has been endorsed by and shown support for Petaluma City Councilmembers Gabe Kearney, Mike Healy, Chris Albertson and Mike Harris, said that if elected, his push — along with promoting the Rainier Crosstown Connector and Highway 101 widening and stimulating the economy — would be to rebuild trust among voters with their officials in Sacramento.

Levine criticized Allen's ties to public employee unions that Levine says made Allen "water down" the governor's proposed reforms. Allen disagreed and said that most of the governor's plan was still intact, except for points the governor himself wanted to change.

Levine also criticized Allen's perceived flip-flop vote on the Rohnert Park Casino project, which Allen initially lobbied in favor of as a labor leader, but later voted against once he was running for office and the project was finalized. Allen said his ties to unions had nothing to do with his change of heart and instead pointed out that the project grew in scale vastly from the time it was proposed, which lead him to withdraw his support.

Allen has contended that Levine has not earned the right to represent the district at the state level yet, and has attacked his allegiance to the Democratic Party, calling Levine a tool of right-wing business interests.

The other area of contention for the candidates is Allen's city of residence. Though he currently serves as the Assemblymember of a district that includes Santa Rosa — and owns a home in Santa Rosa's Oakmont neighborhood — he recently rented an apartment in San Rafael, presumably to enable him to run for the open seat in the 10th District.


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