Council to appoint 2018 mayor

FILE PHOTO: New Santa Clarita mayor Cameron Smyth is sworn in, with his family at his side, by city clerk Mary Cusickon on Dec. 13, 2016. Katharine Lotze/Signal

On Tuesday, Mayor Cameron Smyth expects to turn in his gavel before the council votes on who will serve as Santa Clarita’s mayor next year.

It’s tradition that the council gives this position to the mayor pro tem, which is currently held by longtime Councilwoman Laurene Weste, who has served consecutive terms on the council since 1998. Weste has held the mayor title before in 2001, 2006, 2010 and 2014.

Though, it has happened before that a pro tem was passed up for the opportunity and the sitting mayor was appointed when Jo Anne Darcy served consecutive terms in 1999 and 2000.

While Smyth isn’t predicting he’ll be chosen a consecutive term, he would accept the position if the other council members vote him in, he said.

“I am certainly not lobbying for that and I would expect the transition to happen normally, but if three members of the council wanted me to do a second term, I’m sure I would,” Smyth said. “I’d be happy to do that.”  

Smyth is the only member of the council with a 9-to-5 day job, and while he said the mayor title does require him to attend more meetings and events than a regular council position, he felt he fulfilled the two roles well.  

“I was able to balance both mayor and my day job both effectively this year,” he said.

Whoever is mayor is required to hold a spot on the sanitation district and the budget committee, and Smyth took on an extra committee role when he started the ad hoc committee on homelessness this year.

This term is Smyth’s third serving as mayor, after having been appointed to the position in both 2003 and 2005. Councilman Bob Kellar and Marsha McLean are no strangers to the position either, as Kellar held the role four times and McLean held the position three times.

Though Santa Clarita maintains the appointment process for mayor between the elected council members, some other cities have voters elect a specific person for mayor.

Smyth said the weight of the responsibilities does not differ either way.

“It doesn’t change,” Smyth said. “It doesn’t give the mayor any more power.”  

Though, Smyth said it is worth a discussion to evaluate if an elected mayor could work for Santa Clarita, as well as a conversation about dividing the city into districts with elected council members for each area.

Shifting local elections to the same time as the general election helped work toward change for the growing city, he said.

“Moving the election to November,” Smyth said,  “was the first step into evaluating our the best way to continue governing in Santa Clarita.”

To celebrate Santa Clarita’s 30th birthday, The Signal is asking the community who their favorite city council member of all time is. The winner will have a feature story written about them. Vote online here.

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