Mark White | Will We Get ‘New Ideas, Fresh Thoughts’?

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

The Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce recently endorsed the three incumbents for the upcoming City Council election on Nov. 6, stating, “We feel (they) best represent the business interests of the Santa Clarita Valley,” and have a “diversity of voices, breadth of new ideas, fresh thoughts and leadership.”

Let’s analyze the chamber’s endorsed candidates. The two long-serving incumbents (Laurene Weste and Marsha McClean) often highlight their experience as a primary reason to re-elect them for a fourth or fifth term, not their “new ideas and fresh thoughts.” What was their City Council experience when they were first elected? They had different reasons and motivations when they ran initially but as Bob Kellar recently commented, “Do we want to still be here when we are 90?” To Kellar’s credit he has endorsed Jason Gibbs in this election and Jason has broad support in SCV and will bring to the council “new ideas, fresh thoughts and leadership” — exactly what the Chamber professes to want, yet they did not endorse Jason or any other non-incumbent. 

During the 2016 City Council election and subsequent appointment process, I spoke with all the council persons specifically regarding starting the discussion of district elections as a way to get more involvement by more people and get “new ideas” and “fresh thoughts and leadership.” Kellar said no; fine the way it is. Cameron Smyth said he was open to “looking into it.” Both Weste (via phone) and Mclean (in person) said they would look at this as an agenda item after the appointment process was completed. Councilman Bill Miranda has since said he would be open to exploring it. Some of these discussions were almost two years ago and as far I know this has yet to be brought up to even start a discussion of looking at any options. We do not have term limits. We do not have district elections. We do not have an elected mayor. In 2006 then-Councilman Frank Ferry said an elected mayor should be “looked at.” (SCV Newsmakers) It should be noted that all three incumbents at a recent candidate forum all publicly opposed an elected mayor.

If no one on the council will start the discussion of getting a diversity of voices, new ideas and fresh thoughts then it may be time for new council persons. The city of Simi Valley recently moved to district elections, as did Barstow. The process can take a year or more and involves community outreach, public hearings and an open and transparent process before any decision is made. But in order to start you must start. It is time to start.

In this past Sunday’s Our View, the Signal editorial board concluded “change may be in order when it comes to the way our City Council representatives are selected.” They outline several options, including primaries, districts and elected mayor. All great ideas. This is a start of the discussion but why does this process need to wait until after the election? It will be interesting to see if in professing “change” The Signal will take the safe road of endorsing the incumbents, or step up and endorse new candidates. I sincerely hope it is the latter.

Traffic, homelessness and drugs in SCV have gotten worse in the last 20 years. It is time for new public servants to be elected and, as the chamber said, bring a “diversity of voices, breadth of new ideas, fresh thoughts and leadership.” This may mean getting new people elected such as Jason Gibbs, who has taken a proactive position with his desire for Santa Clarita to create a public safety commission to take the lead in addressing the drug and homelessness issues as well as traffic and crime. This is exactly the “new ideas, fresh thoughts and leadership” the chamber wants and is one of the reasons I endorse and support Jason Gibbs for City Council, and would encourage you to vote for him on Nov. 6.

Mark White

Santa Clarita

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