Our View: Welcoming the newly elected

By Signal Editorial Board

Last update: Friday, December 2nd, 2016

As the newly elected begin to take office next week, a changing of the guard will commence that will bring fresh faces to nearly every level of Santa Clarita Valley’s state and local public offices.

Kathryn Barger is sworn into Los Angeles County’s Fifth District Supervisorial seat at 3:30 p.m. Monday. She will be only the second county supervisor since Santa Clarita was founded in 1987. Michael Antonovich took office in 1980 – when people were still carrying pagers instead of cellphones, and nobody had ever heard of Facebook or social media.

Three out of four Santa Clarita Valley state legislators will also take office for the first time next week. They are: Scott Wilk, a Republican who moves from the state Assembly to the state Senate; Henry Stern, a Democrat who worked for his predecessor in the Senate; and Dante Acosta, Republican and soon-to-be-former Santa Clarita City Council member who takes Wilk’s former seat in the Assembly.

Wilk replaces Sharon Runner in the Senate; the long-serving senator and assemblywoman died while in office. Stern takes the former seat of Fran Pavley, who was termed out of office.

Only Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Lancaster, who represents a slice of Saugus and Canyon Country, continues serving SCV residents uninterrupted.

Change is in the wings for the Santa Clarita City Council, as well. Cameron Smyth will be sworn into office Dec. 13, returning to a position he held 10 years ago. And not long after, a second of the five council members will be replaced as a successor is named or elected for Acosta.

One new representative each will take a seat on both the College of the Canyons Board of Trustees and the Saugus Union School District board.

Edel Alonso replaces Bruce Fortine for COC and Julie Olsen will take the Saugus Union seat vacated by Rose Koscielny.

The Legislature, which has been dominated by Democrats since the 1960s except during two periods of a few years each – finds itself in a supermajority situation this year. That means Democrats are not required to ally themselves with Republicans to win legislative victories.

The situation is particularly dismaying when one considers the state budget, recovered now from the abyss of the Great Recession. Handing Democrats a supermajority in the Legislature with a budget surplus is like putting a teenager in a new car with a platinum credit card and saying, “Go have fun! It’s on me.”

As our new representatives take office this holiday season, be it in the Legislature, a school board or anywhere between, we urge them to embrace three practices:

▪ Throw off political polarization: Whether you like ‘em or not, whether they belong to the other party or your own, keep your eye on the ball and negotiate, don’t agitate. Your party didn’t get you elected; the voters did.

Whether you’re Democrat, Republican or nonpartisan, remember that SCV voters cast ballots for results.

▪ Embrace transparency: Many fellow elected officials have gone over to the dark side – the side that thinks voters can be kept in the dark. We’ve seen it in Nancy Pelosi’s “But we have to pass the (health care) bill so that you can find out what’s in it,” and we’ve seen it in the state Legislature’s practice of voting for bills that are blank documents and then filling them in later.

Neither is acceptable under any circumstance. Don’t employ duplicitous behaviors. Be honest with your constituents.

▪ Practice constructive governing: If the frontal assault doesn’t work on an issue, find another way. When freshman Congressman Steve Knight headed to Washington two years ago, he promised Santa Clarita Valley residents that blocking the Cemex mine would be a priority.

He introduced legislation – as did his predecessor over and over again – but he wasn’t satisfied with that. He worked with Democratic congressional members and at least one Democratic senator to find solutions and form alliances.

Suddenly, the Bureau of Land Management rescinded Cemex’s mining contracts. Cemex appealed and the issue is now in the hands of judges delegated by the secretary of the interior to make final decisions for the Department of the Interior.

We wish every one of Santa Clarita’s representatives – from our returning congressman to our new school board members – good luck on their careers, along with this bit of wisdom from Margaret Chase Smith, the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress:

“Public service must be more than doing a job efficiently and honestly. It must be a complete dedication to the people and to the nation.”

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Our View: Welcoming the newly elected

As the newly elected begin to take office next week, a changing of the guard will commence that will bring fresh faces to nearly every level of Santa Clarita Valley’s state and local public offices.

Kathryn Barger is sworn into Los Angeles County’s Fifth District Supervisorial seat at 3:30 p.m. Monday. She will be only the second county supervisor since Santa Clarita was founded in 1987. Michael Antonovich took office in 1980 – when people were still carrying pagers instead of cellphones, and nobody had ever heard of Facebook or social media.

Three out of four Santa Clarita Valley state legislators will also take office for the first time next week. They are: Scott Wilk, a Republican who moves from the state Assembly to the state Senate; Henry Stern, a Democrat who worked for his predecessor in the Senate; and Dante Acosta, Republican and soon-to-be-former Santa Clarita City Council member who takes Wilk’s former seat in the Assembly.

Wilk replaces Sharon Runner in the Senate; the long-serving senator and assemblywoman died while in office. Stern takes the former seat of Fran Pavley, who was termed out of office.

Only Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Lancaster, who represents a slice of Saugus and Canyon Country, continues serving SCV residents uninterrupted.

Change is in the wings for the Santa Clarita City Council, as well. Cameron Smyth will be sworn into office Dec. 13, returning to a position he held 10 years ago. And not long after, a second of the five council members will be replaced as a successor is named or elected for Acosta.

One new representative each will take a seat on both the College of the Canyons Board of Trustees and the Saugus Union School District board.

Edel Alonso replaces Bruce Fortine for COC and Julie Olsen will take the Saugus Union seat vacated by Rose Koscielny.

The Legislature, which has been dominated by Democrats since the 1960s except during two periods of a few years each – finds itself in a supermajority situation this year. That means Democrats are not required to ally themselves with Republicans to win legislative victories.

The situation is particularly dismaying when one considers the state budget, recovered now from the abyss of the Great Recession. Handing Democrats a supermajority in the Legislature with a budget surplus is like putting a teenager in a new car with a platinum credit card and saying, “Go have fun! It’s on me.”

As our new representatives take office this holiday season, be it in the Legislature, a school board or anywhere between, we urge them to embrace three practices:

▪ Throw off political polarization: Whether you like ‘em or not, whether they belong to the other party or your own, keep your eye on the ball and negotiate, don’t agitate. Your party didn’t get you elected; the voters did.

Whether you’re Democrat, Republican or nonpartisan, remember that SCV voters cast ballots for results.

▪ Embrace transparency: Many fellow elected officials have gone over to the dark side – the side that thinks voters can be kept in the dark. We’ve seen it in Nancy Pelosi’s “But we have to pass the (health care) bill so that you can find out what’s in it,” and we’ve seen it in the state Legislature’s practice of voting for bills that are blank documents and then filling them in later.

Neither is acceptable under any circumstance. Don’t employ duplicitous behaviors. Be honest with your constituents.

▪ Practice constructive governing: If the frontal assault doesn’t work on an issue, find another way. When freshman Congressman Steve Knight headed to Washington two years ago, he promised Santa Clarita Valley residents that blocking the Cemex mine would be a priority.

He introduced legislation – as did his predecessor over and over again – but he wasn’t satisfied with that. He worked with Democratic congressional members and at least one Democratic senator to find solutions and form alliances.

Suddenly, the Bureau of Land Management rescinded Cemex’s mining contracts. Cemex appealed and the issue is now in the hands of judges delegated by the secretary of the interior to make final decisions for the Department of the Interior.

We wish every one of Santa Clarita’s representatives – from our returning congressman to our new school board members – good luck on their careers, along with this bit of wisdom from Margaret Chase Smith, the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress:

“Public service must be more than doing a job efficiently and honestly. It must be a complete dedication to the people and to the nation.”

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Signal Editorial Board

Signal Editorial Board

  • tech

    The situation is particularly dismaying when one considers the state budget, recovered now from the abyss of the Great Recession. Handing Democrats a supermajority in the Legislature with a budget surplus is like putting a teenager in a new car with a platinum credit card and saying, “Go have fun! It’s on me.”

    Nicely done on paraphrasing this quote:

    “Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.” – P. J. O’Rourke

    ▪ Embrace transparency: Many fellow elected officials have gone over to the dark side – the side that thinks voters can be kept in the dark. We’ve seen it in Nancy Pelosi’s “But we have to pass the (health care) bill so that you can find out what’s in it,” and we’ve seen it in the state Legislature’s practice of voting for bills that are blank documents and then filling them in later.

    Precisely. Why Californians believe a single party state like Cuba is in their best interests confounds logic. Surely supporters of diversity would extend that to ideas and policies, right? The lack of checks and balances guarantees abuses like “gut and amend” without being vetted by opposition and those who’ve developed expertise on committees. It’s a playground for lobbyists and special interests.

  • James de Bree

    Excellent editorial. I could not have expressed these points better myself.

  • Ed Shalom

    Maybe we need to study a Grecian tragedy, in which the “democratic” mob forced Socrates to drink the hemlock….in America, we merely have mobs chanting “lock her up”…

    “Socrates… did not conceal his contempt for some of the weaknesses of democracy, and this… greatly influenced the political thinking of his disciple Plato. Socrates openly taught that the principal fault of democracy was that it did not require proof of special knowledge in its leaders, that it surrendered the direction of the people’s destinies to men without adequate experience in government, and that on the question of the morality of justice of a policy it treated the opinions of all citizens as equal in value”

    • tech

      I have studied history extensively, Mr. Shalom. The Founders did as well and that’s why our nation is a Constitutional Republic, not a direct democracy. Yet there are many in your Party that advocate for the elimination of Federalism, subjecting all to a tyranny of the majority, ignoring the lesson of Socrates.

      For example, elimination the Electoral College would allow just 4 states (California, Texas, New York and Florida) to elect a President, silencing the voice of tens of millions.

      A modern day example of the abuse of direct democracy is passage of propositions that confiscate assets and liberties of other citizens for the perceived benefit of others. These do via the force of government what citizens could not do legally as individuals. See: Frédéric Bastiat.

  • Ed Shalom

    Tech:
    My post was not directed at the electoral college and the tradeoffs between “pure democracy” and our system – I would suggest that Socrates’s concerns would apply to either one (in the Republic, his student Plato advocated training leaders from their youth in all fields, the so-called “philosopher king”, which clearly also has its pitfalls)

    However since you brought up the electoral college, putting aside that the motives for its creation were hardly pure, I think your conclusions are off the mark. “One man, one vote” results in exactly what it implies: as such, the vote of a person in S. Dakota would have the exact same weight as a vote from California. The system as it now stands gives MORE weight to a vote from S. Dakota as a vote from California. Speaking of California, with its population of 30+ million, equivalent to many countries, is it unfair that we elect our Governor by popular vote ?

    PS: I would comment that it is ultimately the responsibility of the citizenry in any form of democracy to be educate themselves enough to participate, and that in the US, both the citizenry and the leaders that we choose are incredibly deficient.

    • tech

      My segue was logical, Mr. Shalom. Your example of the flaws of direct democracy is a fine one and demonstrates why it was purposely avoided by the Founders. Related is the expansion on Montesquieu’s separation of powers concept in architecting the Federal government to balance human ambition.

      If you review the history of “Progressivism”, it’s a reiteration of Plato’s political philosophy, advocating a technocratic ruling class as “Philosopher Kings”. It’s a retrograde ideology that discards the lessons of The Enlightenment.

      You also conflate state and the Federal government roles in our Federalist system. Citizens of states can elect whom they wish by popular vote and enact the legislation they wish at the state level, subject to the framework of a republican form of government defined in the Constitution.

      In your own example, Socrates died at the hands of “one man, one vote”. It was the ultimate form of censoring free speech. So no, California doesn’t get to dictate terms to S. Dakota based on a tyranny of the majority, i.e. mob rule, nor does population size obviate principles of self-governance.