Bruce Van Allen

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Bruce Van Allen

Template:TOCnestleft Bruce Van Allen is a Santa Cruz socialist. Politically active since his teens, Van Allen works from "the left side of the aisle on issues of racism, human rights, poverty, and environment."[1]

Helped lead successful progressive insurgency in Santa Cruz, CA; served as Mayor 1982-83. In my view, the wisdom of politics is to understand that progress comes not from what you do, but from how others respond to what you do; and the art of politics is to be able to work constructively with those whose views and interests differ from your own.

I came to software development to make tools for organizers. Over the years I've developed a strategic approach combining traditional community organizing with modern technology, which I now apply as manager or consultant on progressive election campaigns. In my "off-season" between elections, I develop software and database tools for the public and non-profit sectors.

As a volunteer interest, I've worked for a few decades on restoring damaged habitat along the San Lorenzo River as it passes through downtown Santa Cruz.


In the late 1970s Bruce Van Allen was a member of the Santa Cruz New American Movement.

Santa Cruz politics

Mike Rotkin worked with another socialist-feminist, Bruce Van Allen, one of the leaders in a downtown neighbors association that had stopped attempts to widen a thoroughfare and expand the downtown. Van Allen was also a mainstay in the effort to bring rent control to the city. He, too, was ready to use electoral politics as a springboard after the rent control organization he helped found, the Santa Cruz Housing Action Committee, came within 74 votes of passing a city rent control initiative in fall, 1978, despite the fact that the real estate interests spent $100,000 to defeat it.

No one thought that Rotkin and Van Allen might win because less radical candidates had suffered defeats in 1975 and 1977. But they stressed their ties to neighborhood groups -- Rotkin even called his campaign "Neighbors for a Change" -- and received support from student and environmental activists. They won in a rout. Their margins in the neighborhoods they targeted were so large that they didn't even need the overwhelming support they received in the four precincts on the campus. Surprised and elated, they gave an interview to a socialist journal explaining how their election would advance the cause of socialism, and put forth resolutions relating to national issues, but they also joined with other progressive leaders to plan for the 1981 elections with the hope of winning the two more seats to give them a majority.[2]

Santa Cruz mayor

In November 1982, Bruce Van Allen, a 32 year old cabinet maker and former anti Vietnam War activist was elected to the Santa Cruz mayoralty by his three "progressive" council colleagues - Mike Rotkin, John Laird and Mardi Wormhoudt.

Van Allen was a member of Democratic Socialists of America[3].