And the winner is…William Miranda.
The Valencia resident, managing partner and editor in chief for Our Valley Santa Clarita and Air Force veteran was appointed Tuesday night as the newest member of the Santa Clarita City Council.
Miranda, an adviser on the Santa Clarita Chamber of Commerce’s Latino Business Alliance, won the spot with a 3-1 vote, with Mayor Cameron Smyth, Mayor Pro Tem Laurene Weste and Councilwoman Marsha McLean voting yes and Councilman Bob Kellar voting no.
Miranda has also worked for IBM, Xerox and Data General.
“I want to tap into my extensive education, business experience and community activism to help provide the strong leadership necessary to address the issues of senior services, economic development and veterans’ issues as well as the overall controlled growth of our city,” he said.
Also a volunteer with the Senior Center and the American Diabetes Association, Miranda told the Council he would “champion the economic development of the city.”
He also cited as his big issues supporting schools, public safety and addressing the homeless situation in the city.’
“On economic growth, he told the Council, “We need to go out there … there are business looking for a business-friendly community, and we have to work to get the message out.’’
It was standing-room only in the Council Chambers of City Hall on Tuesday night, and the big question on everybody’s mind was, who would be standing at the end?
And in the end, it was Miranda.
This was the night the City Council held a special session to appoint a fifth member, following the Dec. 6 resignation of Dante Acosta, who departed to join the state Assembly.
This was the night the four sitting Council members heard from 40 of the residents who applied for the Acosta vacancy – a process that was expected to last deep into the night, with each applicant getting three minutes to state his or her case and then face further questions as the members saw fit.
Originally, 50 residents had applied, but several dropped out, one was added late, and there were several no-shows.
The plan was for each of the applicants on hand to get their three minutes, then for the Council to break and discuss among themselves which applicants needed to be brought back up for a second round of questions — to elaborate or clarify their earlier points.
The 40 applicants who showed up wrapped up the first portion of the night’s program, their three-minute presentations, at 7:36 p.m.
Frequent issues brought up by the applicants included traffic, attracting jobs, public safety, homelessness, senior-citizen issues, and the city’s recently enacted moratorium on recreational marijuana shops, now that Proposition 64 has passed.
Among those brought back early in the second part of the program were former Councilman TimBen Boydston, Kenneth Dean, Marcus Hershey, Gloria Mercado-Fortine, Jack Levenberg, Diane Trautman, Brent A. Braun, Dr. Gene Dorio, Ronda Baldwin-Kennedy.
Dean, who served on the city’s formation committee in 1987, was asked if he had the time to dedicate to all the duties attached to being on the Council, and he replied, “Absolutely.”
Boydston was asked about how the city should handle the marijuana issue now that Prop 64 passed, legalizing its recreational use. He supported the city’s moratorium on pot – which he voted for as a member of the Council – and said the city should “restrict the heck out of it.”
Hershey, a former L.A. County Sheriff’s deputy, spoke of his concerns about what he saw as a troubling suicide rate in Santa Clarita.
Mercado-Fortine, a former teacher, principal and district-level administrator with the L.A. Unified School District, was asked about her biggest concerns regarding teens, and she said,
“The growth of drugs.”
Levenberg, a pharmacist, spoke of homelessness and drug issues.
Braun, a retired FBI agent, was also asked about marijuana, and he spoke about the challenges ahead for the city and state because, regarding marijuana, “Federal law is in direct conflict with state law (and) federal law trumps state law.”
It went on like that into the evening, the crowd dissipating little.
“To quote from my favorite movie, Highlander, ‘There can be only one,’ ’’ Smyth had quipped at the start of the proceedings.
“(But) with that in mind, I hope those who have applied use this as a springboard for continued involvement in the city. What a great group of candidates and applicants.
“(To those not chosen), I certainly hope you look at other ways of being involved with the city and the community.’’
One of the applicants, Bret Alden Mouser, said he planned just that, having been inspired by the process.
“Even if I don’t get appointed, this will not be the last you see of me,’’ he said. “I plan to become a familiar face.”