Holly Schroeder: Committing to lead SCV into future

Twenty-four applicants for the single open Santa Clarita City Council seat joined in a public forum Thursday night. Left to right are applicants Jacqueline Thomas, Gloria Mercado-Fortine, Michael Cruz, Cristen Farrell and Brent A. Braun during the forum at College of the Canyons' University Center. Katharine Lotze/Signal

50 candidates! 50! This is an amazing statement about the citizens of the Santa Clarita Valley.

There are at least 50 people willing to give generously of their time and talent to help lead the city of Santa Clarita into the future.

Perhaps some will be cynical about this, saying that it’s just a way of avoiding the campaigning and fundraising that are a fact of life in our current political process. And maybe that’s true.

But I think it’s a very optimistic thing that this many people want to serve their community.

Think about it: Council members are basically volunteers who agree to be second-guessed, challenged and criticized in their efforts to try to make our community a better place.

The position is at least a part-time job, if not more, in terms of the hours council members serve in meetings, meeting prep, community outreach and events. Twice a month people line up to tell them what they are doing wrong – it’s unusual for people to go to a City Council meeting and speak during public comment about what they did right.

Yet 50 people have stepped up to serve in this way.

As applicants prepare for their council interviews, I offer the following thoughts for  consideration:

  • It’s the economy, stupid. OK, it’s not original and I do work for the economic development corporation, but understanding the Santa Clarita Valley regional, state and national economy is a critical function for any civic leader.
    But employment actually is the answer to a lot of problems. It’s the fastest way out of poverty or into upward mobility. It generates the taxes that help fund our roads, our schools, and our parks.
    Santa Clarita has just been named L.A. County’s Most Business-Friendly City, and a big reason is that the council actually thinks about the role that business plays in improving our quality of life. The commitment to a robust and diverse economy in the future must continue and is vital to our continued success.
  • Santa Clarita is no longer a small town. One of the most pervasive misperceptions of the SCV is that we are still a small town with no real business or activity. In reality, Santa Clarita is the third largest city in L.A. County and the Santa Clarita Valley is home to a vibrant and growing business community. Household names such as Princess Cruises and Sunkist call the SCV home, along with lesser-known leaders in the aerospace, medical device, film, and manufacturing sectors.
    Our leaders need to engage with other leaders from cities across the region and the state to ensure that decisions and policy are favorable to the SCV. Our size and growth potential should enable us to be a significant player in the region.
  • Remember that the post is nonpartisan. Some of the best public policy ideas are hatched in cities because party politics aren’t overly influencing the debates. Council members should work together to address the real issues facing our community.
    I generally find that there is more agreement than disagreement on issues when people sit down and really listen to each other. While there is much partisan bickering at the state and federal levels, I would like our council to work together and be an example of how cities can succeed.
  • Think about the future. The SCV is growing and changing. We have an aging population but also have a growing youth population.
    Our young city is maturing, along with our infrastructure. We need to be thinking about the future and preparing for it. We have older infrastructure that will need attention whilst we need to invest in new roads, parks and schools at the same time.
    Technology is reshaping how we live and can also shape how our community works. We should be thinking long-term about our future infrastructure, governance and services to meet the demands of a modern society.

I firmly believe that the Santa Clarita Valley has a bright outlook ahead with tremendous opportunities. Through strong leadership, the Santa Clarita City Council can lead the community into the future to be the best we can be.

I wish much success to the selected candidate and look forward to working together to grow high-quality jobs in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Holly Schroeder is president and CEO of the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation. The SCVEDC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to growing high-quality jobs in the Santa Clarita Valley. It is a public-private partnership that receives funding from the city of Santa Clarita, the county of Los Angeles and the private sector. For more information, visit www.stillgolden.org.

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