Assemblywoman-elect Christy Smith is in fact-finding mode as the two-term Newhall School District board member prepares for her new role representing the Santa Clarita Valley and the rest of the 38th Assembly District in Sacramento.
Smith will be sworn in on Dec. 3, and her first order of business will be to gather together what the community needs, she said.
“As far as opening legislation, what I’ve been focused on right now is reaching out to stakeholders in the 38th Assembly District community and making sure I have appointments set,” she said.
Before her term begins in January, Smith has a few weeks to meet with members of the local Santa Clarita community, such as the City Council, the SCV Economic Development Corporation, the SCV Chamber of Commerce and other entities.
“I want to make sure none of what Assemblyman (Dante) Acosta was working on falls through the cracks in the transition,” she said.
Smith will also be meeting with the former assemblyman.
“(Acosta) kindly offered his staff so we could review any constituent service matters or legislation that are still pending,” she said. “I want to make sure I’m reaching out across the Santa Clarita Valley, Simi Valley, and see what’s outstanding from the last session.
“I am sure there is going to be a lot of work to be done around damage from the fires, and how the Woolsey Fire impacted the district,” she said. “So I want to make sure Simi Valley residents are taken care of in that regard. But my initial plan is to have great conversations with local leadership to see where we need to start.”
Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste said Smith’s background as a Newhall School District board member equipped her to understand the issues facing the district, which primarily included transportation and the environment.
The high speed rail and the Cemex mega-mine project were two key issues the city wants to work with the Assembly on, Weste said.
“I think Christy is well aware of the critical issues in Santa Clarita because she has served in the area for a long time,” she said. “When we speak with her, certainly hot priorities for this community are the proposed high-speed rail and the environmental impacts it’ll have on the Santa Clara River on the east side corridor, and the ecosystem. And the Cemex mining project is still an issue. Those two projects intersect adjacent to each other. So we want to talk about that.”
Weste also said traffic congestion and commuter roads would be important points of discussion with Smith.
The state’s planned high-speed rail line is being built in the Central Valley with the goal of linking Anaheim to San Francisco. As planned, it would run through an eastern portion of the Santa Clarita Valley. Assembly Republicans have long criticized the project and Santa Clarita officials have previously expressed opposition as well.
The city of Santa Clarita is also locked in an ongoing fight against the proposed Cemex gravel mine in Soledad Canyon.
The federal Bureau of Land Management canceled Cemex’s original mining contracts in 2015, but Cemex is appealing the cancellation. The Interior Board of Land Appeals, which oversees appeals, has still not approved or disproved the appeal.
Smith’s predecessor Acosta said in debates that money from the high-speed rail should be allocated toward efforts that would have a more lasting impact on communities.
Smith said in debates leading up to her Nov. 6 election that she did not like the idea of the rail, but would listen to constituents about their thoughts on its building.
Acosta was also part of a bipartisan state legislative coalition that opposed Cemex.
Smith said she believes in “an important balance in effective community service” and her background has helped her understand what that entails.
“Beyond the municipal experience and knowing what it’s like to be an elected official in contact with the community, I’ve already developed relationships with stakeholders and leadership over the years, which allows me to transition seamlessly into the role,” she said. “Every local community member across the 38th district matters, and you will all be welcomed to have a seat the table or join me when you have concerns and issues.”