Council appointment session figures to become Late-Late Show


It’s show time. And it figures to be The Late-Late Show.

The Santa Clarita City Council holds a special session tonight to fill, by appointment, its vacant seat —with 50 residents applying for the spot, and each getting at least three minutes to state their case, then answer any questions sitting members might have.

That’s more than two hours of talk…and that’s just Act I. The four sitting members will then have to sift through all that information, discuss matters among themselves and then, they hope, reach a consensus.

“I anticipate it’s going to be a long evening,’’ said Councilman Bob Kellar.
Quipped Mayor Cameron Smyth: “I’m taking a couple of power naps to get ready.’’
The curtain rises at 5 p.m. in the Council Chambers of City Hall, and the session is open to the public.

All the nocturnal goings-on will take place because Dante Acosta stepped down from his Council seat on Dec. 6, a day ahead of his move to the state Assembly. Two years remain on his now-vacant council term.

The Council opted to fill Acosta’s seat by appointment, rejecting calls to hold a special election. It solicited applications from residents and set a Jan. 6 deadline.
Fifty people applied, with one applicant since dropping out and one other late applicant being allowed into the pool.

Since the filing deadline, Council members said, they have been poring over the applications and letters of recommendation and, in some cases, speaking with applicants personally.

“Along with the people I knew going in, including the nine other candidates (actually 10) from the (November) election that I spent so much time with on the campaign trail, I met with individually probably over a dozen candidates,’’ said Smyth, one of the two victors in that November Council election.

“I feel very comfortable in knowing where most of the candidates stand. I stopped by the (Signal-sponsored) forum (last Thursday), I watched all the podcasts on KHTS. I have a good baseline off all the applicants.’’

For his part, Kellar said, “I have completely reviewed all the applicants, along with their references, and I have personally met with probably half a dozen applicants over a cup of coffee, and spoken to five or six others over the phone.’’

Asked if he had a short list in his mind, Kellar said, “Some I have eliminated from contention. But certainly a number of them would be a very good candidate to fill the seat.’’

“There are some very dynamic people that have applied,’’ Kellar added. “I’ve been extremely impressed with no less than half a dozen. Some of these people are quite impressive.’’

Mayor Pro Tem Laurene West said she had read the applications and spoken to a handful of the candidates by phone but was saving her judgments for Tuesday night.

“I’ll take notes, and we’ll hear whatever is said, and whatever questions the council has and their responses,’’ Weste said.

Marsha McLean, the fourth member of the Council, said, “I’m going into that meeting with no thoughts whatsoever — I’ll just listen to what they (the applicants) have to say, and I want to pick someone who’s going to represent all the residents, not just one group.”

McLean also said a few applicants had reached out to her, and that she planned to meet with them on Tuesday, before the special Council session. She declined to say who those applicants were.

However late the proceedings might go, Kellar is optimistic a consensus will be reached, bringing the Council to its full roster of five.

Smyth hoped so too, but left open the possibility the Council might continue the matter into its next regular meeting, on Jan. 24.

“That (consensus on Tuesday night) is certainly my goal,’’ Smyth said.

“But … we’re different people, we’ll look at different things in the candidates. … That’s why we built in time so we can go into another week. If we do (reach consensus), great, but we have some time.’’

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