As part of a series on candidates, I am reaching out to our local, county and state candidates to report their views.
I selected a narrow set of concerns that I believe have the most dramatic impact on our daily lives here in the Santa Clarita Valley. These concerns are: transparency in government, reform of the criminal justice system, and social welfare programs.
Candidate views regarding these topics I find to be most revealing and helpful when considering how to cast one’s vote.
Newhall School District board member Christy Smith is running for the 38th Assembly District seat.
The 38th encompasses most of Santa Clarita, Castaic, Canyon Country, Newhall, Saugus, Agua Dulce, Stevenson Ranch, San Fernando, Granada Hills, Chatsworth, Porter Ranch and part of Ventura County, including the Simi Valley.
When asked about lobbyist influence in government and a perceived lack of transparency, Smith first shared her concerns about former officials serving as lobbyists after leaving office.
“Right now there is a one-year moratorium after a person leaves elected office before they can become a lobbyist for special interests. I would extend this to two years, and that would also include a moratorium on being a ‘consultant,’ which is how politicians are getting around the current rules.”
Smith said she believes relationships in Sacramento are currently “too entangled.” She would like to help create a separation between the people’s interest and special interests.
Smith supports recent changes to AB700, the Political Reform Act, which will promote government transparency and accountability. She also supports Proposition 59 on the November ballot, which would curb the amount big money can donate to influence political races.
Regarding criminal justice reform, Smith is calling for a formal review of the prison realignment policies currently in place. She is concerned that the justice system is not functioning as designed.
“I have made the judgment on the current prison realignment that the policy is not working. But until we see real data, how we approach a legislative fix is unclear.
“I am a former analyst at the U.S. Department of Education. This role has taught me that making effective changes means we will do so based on facts, not emotion.”
A priority for her as an Assembly member, she said, would be finding ways to shut the “revolving door where inmates flow in and out of jail without end.”
She said some of the $11 billion currently spent on the justice system could be diverted some day to education and more worthy endeavors if the “revolving door” can be shut.
Smith believes that effectively addressing social welfare issues starts with education. She advocates efforts like “The First Five,” an advertising drive to encourage talking to children up through the age of 5 years.
This engagement process with children by their parents is believed to support brain development.
“Research shows that children who are spoken (to) are better learners,” Smith said.
Smith endorses using extra funds in the short-term for job skill training as another way to reduce the cost of social welfare programs in California.
She said in the long run, getting people to work and off welfare is a wise investment.
Smith said using taxpayer monies and other resources in the immediate future to develop job skills for those on welfare and other support may cost more immediately but be more efficient than paying out untold millions without end.
Asked her key position in her bid for Assembly, “Education is the key,” Smith said, “and my experience in this field, I feel, will allow me to contribute added value for our community.”
I found Smith to be candid and passionate about education and creating change. I look forward to reporting soon on her rival, Dante Acosta.
Jonathan Kraut directs private investigations and private security firms, is a published author, Democratic Party activist, and SCV Interfaith Council member. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal or of other organizations.