Earlier this year I applied for appointment to the vacant Santa Clarita City Council seat, and a bit later for the vacated Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission seat. I have never before pursued public office, but given the current political climate in California l felt a new voice needed to be heard.
Most readers probably haven’t seen my name before, unless you attended The Signal’s public forum for City Council (where Mr. Champion kindly gave me his tie to wear during my closing statement) or the council’s appointment meeting for the open commission seat, so you probably don’t know me or my views.
My speech and positions on serious issues our city faces have been drowned out by the ceaseless online and written bickering about what “civic engagement” really means. While Facebook can provide hours of entertaining viewpoints on the City Council and various appointments, I believe a recent piece by The Signal Editorial Board (“Dynasty stifles engagement in SCV,” April 22) captured the feelings of many who have been denied appointments and those who feel our city leadership is not interested in new thinkers.
Councilman Bill Miranda and Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Antelope Valley, had an hour-long interview on KHTS Friday to refute the opinion piece. Having been involved in both processes discussed in the editorial as an applicant who was not selected to serve, I wanted to offer my thoughts:
- Never during either process did I feel ignored or marginalized by the City Council. Political engagement does not start and stop because the local political elites want it to!
I continue to attend not just council meetings, but study sessions, as well as commission meetings and budget meetings. This may not seem like fun to all, but engagement isn’t about fun – it’s about being informed and involved in your community.
As to the condemnation that our political leaders select our representatives, it is my opinion that anyone applying for these appointments who could secure a recommendation from established community figures, such as Sen. Wilk or Assemblyman Acosta, would be foolish not to.
They have been through the grind of an election, they have name recognition in political and public circles, and they represent their communities extremely well in a Legislature that can silence their conservative messages with the current Democratic supermajority. Just like applying for a job in the private sector, you want to secure the best references you can.
In the end, it was not the people who wrote the letters of recommendation who made the appointments; it was the members of the City Council who cast their votes in favor of the selected applicants. If you are unhappy with their choices, remember that come election time in November 2018.
- I took exception to a suggestion made by Councilman Miranda during his rebuttal interview on KHTS regarding young people who want to get involved in politics. He stated, “It’s OK to want to get involved; we want you to get involved. But there’s lots of steps along the way.”
The only requirements I recall were to be at least 18 years old, be a registered voter and reside within the city limits. While the steps he alludes to could be a huge benefit when running for any political office, and may be considered critical in regards to “viability” and political success, it gives credence to The Signal’s editorial that unless you have made significant connections through political and community involvement, you will be denied the opportunity to hold public office.
A passion to serve, a willingness to have your life scrutinized, and an unwavering commitment to represent our city the best that you can, these are all the qualities you should need.
One reason I applied was I felt young families were lacking a strong political voice in town. We have a lot to offer, not the least of which are new viewpoints and ideas that may successfully bypass established norms and breathe new life and vigor into Santa Clarita.
Civic engagement, political activism and public service do not start and stop with “dynasty figures.” They start and stop at the ballot box. Successful contributions are made when we listen to all sides, study the effects, and make logical conclusions based on our love of community.
Don’t listen to naysayers who disdain one’s lack of financial backing or political name recognition. Come election time, a council member’s, an assemblyman’s, and even a state senator’s vote is worth the same as your own!