‘Campaign’ for Santa Clarita mayor begins

City of Santa Clarita City Hall

For all you political junkies going through campaign withdrawal after two whole days without, relief has arrived: The race for Mayor of Santa Clarita in 2017 has officially begun!

Well, technically, it’s not a race – it’s only a decision that has to be made on Dec. 13, when the council swears in the two victors from Tuesday’s city council election and then picks a mayor from among the body’s members to serve a one-year term.

And don’t expect any campaign pyrotechnics, either – The Signal spoke to all the potential candidates on Thursday, and not one of them said anything negative, nasty or remotely mean-spirited about any of the others.

No, under the city’s Council/Manager form of government, the next mayor will ascend on Dec. 13 after a month of civil discussion among council members – Mayor Bob Kellar (re-elected to the council on Tuesday), incumbents Marsha McLean and Laurene Weste, and the newly elected Cameron Smyth (returning after a 10-year absence).

A fifth member will need to be seated – through a process yet to be determined — early in the next council’s next term, as Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Dante Acosta will be leaving to join the state Assembly, a post he won on Tuesday.

Normally, the Mayor Pro Tem would automatically transition to the mayor’s spot – but Acosta’s leaving has created the tiniest bit of “campaign” intrigue this time around.

The mayor’s job is largely ceremonial, and carries no more power than any other council member. But it does entail more of a time commitment for all manner of city business, including chairing council meetings, and public appearances.

“I jokingly say to my husband, ‘I’ll see you next year,’ ’’ said Weste, who has served as mayor four times.

As for who might become mayor this time around, Weste – like the other members interviewed — said, “I have not had an opportunity to think about it, but we’ll start thinking about it.’’

“We have good quality of people (to choose from),’’ Weste added – pointing out that she, McLean, Kellar and Smyth have all served as mayor multiple times before.

Said McLean, who has been mayor three times and was Kellar’s immediate predecessor:  “This is going to be interesting.’’

“The normal succession would have been Dante. Now, with Bob’s term being up and Dante not there to move up, I have no idea how it’s going to go. We’ll have to discuss it when we convene, and see what the council wants to do.’’

“Any one of us would be just fine — we’re all experienced, and we’ve all done it before. At the meeting, somebody can speak up, if they want it,’’ McLean said.

Kellar is not technically barred from serving consecutive terms, but he said it’s “highly, highly unlikely” that would happen.

“I expect it would be either of the two ladies,” Kellar said, “although there certainly hasn’t been any discussion about it yet. Typically, we’ve rotated through the council.”

Kellar said he “will be surprised” if the job, at least this time, goes to Smyth, since Smyth has not been a council member for 10 years.

Smyth isn’t lobbying for the job, either.

“It’s been a decade since I’ve been at City Hall,’’ Smyth said.

“I have meetings set with city managers and other department heads to get up to speed as quickly as possible. … I want to hit the ground running.”


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