By Teresa Rochester
Jerry Rubin is serious.
He is running for City Council this November.
He does not want your endorsement.
He does not want campaign contributions.
He does not want you to volunteer to help with his campaign.
He would like your vote. But only if you think he deserves the job.
Rubin, a perennial presence at council meetings, announced last week that he plans to run for one of the four City Council seats up for grabs in November.
Known for his hunger strikes and championing causes from street performer regulations to melting toy guns, Rubin announced his candidacy at a press conference at his Ocean Park condominium attended by his wife Marissa and their two cats Max and Muffin.
"I do think I would add a different perspective to the council, not only as someone who is grassroots, but also on the streets. I have a history in activism," said Rubin, sporting his trademark outfit of sweater and shorts. "I would like to see a more meditative perspective brought to the council and an element of cooperation."
A bumper sticker vendor on the Third Street Promenade and head of the non-profit group Alliance for Survival, Rubin admits that his campaign platform is not much different from that of other candidates who will step into the ring this fall. He supports rent control, affordable housing, safer streets and neighborhoods and education, "as does everybody else," he said.
"I don't think anything really sets me apart from any candidate," Rubin said.
What may set him apart, however, is the offbeat path he has decided to take as he embarks on the campaign trail. Rubin has made it clear that he will not accept endorsements - which often makes or breaks candidates in this town - because he wants voters to decide if they want him based on his beliefs and accomplishments.
He will also eschew campaign contributions and volunteers because he figures he can do a lot "on sheer energy." He'd rather people donate their cash and time to worthy causes.
"I'm going to participate in the debates. I'm available to speak to any group who would like me to. I'll be visible at a lot of events and you can do that without a lot of money," Rubin said. "I don't think you have to have a p.r. campaign. If people really want to know what I'm about, they can call me."
Rubin believes campaigns are two-way streets. As a candidate, it is his job to spread his message, and it is the public's job to go to debates and public meetings and ask candidates hard questions.
To help get the public involved Rubin said he will register voters at his bumper sticker table on the Promenade and hold "Campaign Coffee Club Chats" at the Interactive Café the first Thursday of every month leading up to the election.
This isn't the first time Rubin has run for office. He first tired his hand at politics in the sixth grade at Sartayn Elementary School in Philadelphia. He lost his bid for class president by one vote to his best friend and challenger, Frances Rammele. It was Rubin who cast Rammele's winning vote.
In 1974, Rubin ran for the United States Congress as a Peace and Freedom candidate, garnering 6,000 votes in a primary election featuring republican Bob Dornin.
"Maybe they thought I was the other Jerry Rubin," Rubin said. "I had no idea what I was doing."
Sitting at his dining room table, Rubin wants to make clear he is not the "other" Jerry Rubin, who gained national attention as a member of the Chicago Seven along with Tom Hayden and Abby Hoffman, during the 1968 National Democratic Convention. Both Rubins share a birthday, but Jerry Rubin of Chicago Seven fame died five years ago. Santa Monica's Rubin said he admires the other's work.
"We'd like to bring back some of the activism of the '60's in a new way, a different way," Rubin said. "We need to get away from the 'me generation.'"
Rubin said that during the time the Chicago Seven were making national headlines, he "was too busy being a drug addict on the Venice Boardwalk."
Rubin's battle with his addiction led to five suicide attempts and landed him in 18 hospitals. During that time his best friend died of an overdose on Rubin's living room rug and Rubin found himself robbing a shoe store in Hollywood.
It wasn't until 1978 that Rubin kicked the habit with the help of a chiropractor.
"I know the desperation," said Rubin. "That's why I'm pretty anti-drug. It's a terrible thing and it destroys."
Rubin enrolled at Santa Monica College and wrote for the school's award-winning newspaper, the Corsair. He also got involved with Alliance for Survival, marching to protest nuclear power plants and the destruction of the environment.
It was during the early 1980's that Rubin met his wife Marissa at Santa Monica's Dance Home, a place where Santa Monicans of all age groups went to dance. The two literally bumped into each other.
The couple - she in a rainbow dress and he in a Neru style white shirt and black bell bottoms - wed on June 12, 1983 in Palisades Park. The theme of the wedding was "linking personal commitment and love with global commitment and peace."
Rubin is realistic and thoughtful on his chances of being elected to Santa Monica's City Council.
"If I'm not on the council, I'll do what I can to inspire people to get involved," Rubin said. "I really don't have high expectations of winning. I think I have a very slim chance."
Unlike most council members who work their way up through the city's neighborhood groups and city commissions, Rubin's experience is based in grassroots activism. He successfully lobbied the council last year to sell food during its often long-winded sessions.
Last year, he also led a dissident faction of street performers who wanted to bring in a mediator during the city's negotiations over performer regulations, to no avail.
Rubin has also successfully challenged the city in court over its efforts to restrict public gathering of 35 people or more and to ban "heartland" vending on the Third Street Promenade.
"If I were to be elected to the city council I wouldn't be giving up anything. This would be another addition. This would be a great supplement to the grass roots activism," he said.
"And yes, I probably will be wearing shorts at the council meetings."
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