Mayor Bob Kellar appeared headed for a decisive re-election to the Santa Clarita City Council, and former council member Cameron Smyth looked to have locked up another four-year stint on the city’s governing body, according to election returns as of 1:30 a.m. Wednesday morning.
The numbers also mean that incumbent Councilman TimBen Boydston will be ousted from office.
Two seats were at stake, with 11 candidates on the ballot.
With about 51 percent of the precincts reporting, Kellar had 12,698 votes, or 25.95 percent, according to the tallies. Smyth, a political ally of Kellar, had pulled in 12,101 votes, or 24.73 percent.
Boydston was sitting in third place with 6,822 votes, or 13.94 percent, followed by Alan Ferdman with 4,345 votes, or 8.88 percent.
“I was just thrilled to death with the initial numbers,” Kellar said as he, Smyth and other local Republican candidates joined several hundred supporters at a standing-room-only gathering at the Robinson Ranch Golf Club in Santa Clarita.
“Campaigning is never easy, and I never take this for granted,’’ Kellar added. “But I’m obviously very pleased. I’m hoping that my lead will be consistent, and I look forward to working for the citizens of Santa Clarita for the next four years.’’
Smyth was just as ebullient.
“We’re off to a great start — we’re right where we want to be,” he said. “I think the work we put in on the campaign is starting to reflect, and we’re optimistic the favorable trend is going to continue.”
Boydston, meanwhile, was downcast as the numbers continued to trickle in late last night.
“The people always have the last word,’’ he said. “We’ll find out whether the numbers change when the (final) polls come in, but obviously, we are way behind.’’
Of the 11 names on the ballot, only five were considered serious contenders, either through incumbency or because they had established campaign infrastructures and filed all the required and recommended forms with the city, including fundraising disclosures.
Those five were Kellar, Smyth, Boydston, Ferdman and Mark White, a political newcomer who was standing in the lower rungs of the early voting.
The other candidates were: Kenneth Dean, Brett Haddock, Matthew Hargett, Sandra L. Nichols, David Ruelas and Paul J. Wieczorek.
The newly elected council members will take office on Dec. 13, during a special swearing-in meeting at 5 p.m. at City Hall. They will join sitting members Marsha McLean, Laurene Weste and, possibly, Dante Acosta, the current Mayor Pro Tem.
Acosta is running for state Assembly in the 38th District, and if he wins the Assembly seat, he would by law have to vacate his council post — and he was leading comfortably in his Assembly race. The council would then have to begin a process to find a replacement. The council could name a committee to recommend an Acosta successor and appoint that person, or could call a special election.
Once the new council is seated, members will select a mayor from among its members.
This was the first time Santa Clarita held a city election in November, at the same time as a general election. In the past, city elections were held in April, by themselves. But starting this year, the city agreed to move elections to the date of the November general election as part of an agreement to settle a lawsuit.
The suit had alleged the city’s at-large system violated the California Voting Rights Act by denying Latino residents a fair voice. Rather than switch to a district system, as the suit had pushed, the city worked out a deal to switch the election date to a time when a bigger turnout was expected.
Kellar is a 16-year veteran of the City Council. A retired LAPD officer, he has stressed his experience and personal relationships with many government officials in the Santa Clarita area. He has said his focus would be to continue pursuing a “responsible, common-sense balance” on the interconnected issues of economic growth, development, traffic, and attracting jobs. He also would push for increased drug education in schools and tougher enforcement.
Smyth was seeking an encore at City Hall after spending six years on the council starting in 2000, including two terms as mayor. He then served as a Republican Assemblyman from the 38th District. Throughout the campaign, he stressed he ability to build coalitions and work “across the aisle.”
Boydston, executive director of the Canyon Theatre Guild, was seeking his second full term. His refrain throughout the campaign was “to keep Santa Clarita from turning into the San Fernando Valley.” His big issues were traffic, balancing growth and infrastructure, homelessness and greater accountability in city finances.
Ferdman, a retired aerospace project manager and longtime community activist, also ran for council in 2014 and just missed winning a seat.
Returns reported in this story are as of 1:30 a.m. DST on Wednesday.
Go to The Signal’s online Election Tracker for continuously updated results as they are reported: