A hearing aid endorsement from Councilman Bill Miranda in the October issue of Inside SCV magazine sparked conversation on social media last week.
The advertisement features a photo of Miranda beside a testimonial saying he uses the hearing aids from Nola Aronson’s Advanced Audiology, where he is referred to as a council member for the city.
In the ad, Miranda is referred to as a council member for the city of Santa Clarita.
According to Miranda, he did not know his council title would be used in the ad and did not find out about it until he saw a post online.
“I was a little surprised,” Miranda told The Signal Tuesday.
After seeing the ad and the chatter that followed on social media, Miranda said he contacted Advanced Audiology and asked them not to use the testimonial anymore.
“The damage was done,” he said. “There’s nothing I could do about that.”
The newest councilman said he was sorry for the ad and admits it was a mistake but does not blame anyone.
“I apologize,” Miranda said. “The error that I will live up to is using my council title. I don’t think it’s illegal, immoral or unethical, I just don’t think it was something we should do.”
Nola Aronson approached Miranda asking if he would agree to do the ad, according to Miranda, and he agreed to do it because she is his friend. Aronson was out of the office when The Signal called for comment.
Also, Miranda said he consented to the ad because he genuinely likes the product and he wanted the ad to be of service to Santa Clarita’s seniors.
“If they can’t hear, they can’t be well taken care of,” Miranda said. “I always try to promote good hearing and hearing habits.”
Having been appointed in January to the seat Dante Acosta vacated, Miranda said “governing dos and don’ts” are still new to him.
Though, Miranda said he is not the first council member to give an endorsement.
“Endorsing a product, endorsing a company, that’s as old as American pie,” Miranda said.
But not everyone agreed.
Mayor Cameron Smyth said he could not recall a time when a council member endorsed a product or company.
“For me personally, when you’re an elected official, the rules are different,” Smyth said. “If Bill had asked my opinion, I would have counseled against it.”
The mayor said he does not believe Miranda’s actions broke any laws.
Santa Clarita has only had 17 council members in its 30 years of cityhood, Smyth pointed out, saying the council may have to update their norms and procedures as the city continues to grow.
“You have to look at things through a different prism because of situations like this,” he said. “I’m sure Bill had no idea this was a problem.”
In the council’s current norms and procedures, Section 2 states council members are not to advocate their personal beliefs.
“When representing their individual opinions and positions, council members should explicitly state they do not represent the city council of the city, nor should they allow the inference that they do,” the document reads.
On a thread of social media comments in a Santa Clarita Community group, locals varied in response to the ad.
Using Miranda’s testimonial in the ad could lead to bribery, according to commenter David Barlavi.
“The government should not be used to promote private enterprise. Period,” Barlavi said.
Sue Roberts Hand commented and said she did not see Miranda’s endorsement as a “big deal.”
“He’s a patient giving an endorsement and also happens to be a council member,” Hand said. “He’s not selling his own stuff. Much bigger issues to whine about.”