Our View: Support needed for town councils

Our View

The absolute last thing a local newspaper should do is discourage democracy and involvement.

So we want to first thank the 10 men and women who have stepped up to serve on the Castaic Area Town Council.

Los Angeles County is facing homelessness at a crisis level, and the area still recovering from the pinch of the Great Recession – many cite a significant development that stalled back in 2008 as the first domino that toppled to bring several challenges for the Castaic business community, a development that’s now back in the works. CATC members sit for hours at a time, several times a month, and work on the problems facing council members and their neighbors throughout Castaic.

Despite being part of the county’s unincorporated territory, the group is completely autonomous and, as a result, receives little to no support from the county when it comes to elections and advisory votes. It’s all on these volunteer politicians who receive little recognition for the time they sacrifice.

But having said all that, we feel the group needs to work on its outreach and efforts to be more inclusive.

The impetus for this discussion comes from several postings about the recent Town Council election that was reported in The Signal this week.

Yes, we’re proud to see a Signal alumnus, former advertising director Brad Lanfranco, who owns It’s a Grind in Castaic, as the newest member of the Town Council. However, Lanfranco won by garnering 27 votes of the 38 votes cast. And sure, that’s a landslide win. But even by Lanfranco’s own estimates, there are about 700 potential voters in Region 1, which he was elected to represent – and a best guess was all The Signal was able to come up with because the county’s Registrar-Recorder’s Office keeps no such records of the region, and a county official contacted regarding oversight likened the group to an HOA board.

Not to take shots at HOA boards, but we feel the county’s only advisory region and representation for the area does and should play a much more important role.

And should be treated and supported as such.

If we want to encourage democracy at the local level, should the county not support the governance and democratic practices of its local representation? If as county taxpayers, we are generating hundreds of millions of dollars to end homelessness, shouldn’t some of those funds support the local community’s ability to govern effectively? And how is it meant to do that without any support?

By their own admissions, mistakes were made by council members as far as outreach for the election. There was confusion over notice, and the members graciously apologized for the concern. Also, having the election run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on a Saturday at a location outside of the region the election is supposed to represent was an odd decision, even if the polling booth was at a more central location to all of Castaic. The end results clearly did not justify these means.

But going forward, we’re hopeful of a more collaborative relationship with these well-meaning community organizers. We know the importance of local decisions especially with Castaic on the verge of a lot of growth that we hope will be done responsibly with community input for the benefit of all.

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