City Council 2020: Smyth, Gibbs in lead

The Signal hosts Santa Clarita City Council 2020 candidates Monday via Zoom. Top row from left, Signal Editor Tim Whyte, TimBen Boydston and Jason Gibbs; middle row from left, Cameron Smyth, Selina Thomas and Dr. Aakash Ahuja; bottom row from left, Ken Dean, Kelvin Driscoll and Douglas Fraser. Sept. 14, 2020 Screen shot

The city of Santa Clarita has faced an unprecedented number of challenges over the past year: wildfires, a deadly high school shooting, civil unrest and an ongoing global health crisis. 

Nine candidates in the race to fill two seats in the City Council have used their platforms, modified along the way to adjust to COVID-19 health protocols, to offer solutions for what they believe can help local residents recover from these and any possible, future incidents. 

Early returns Tuesday, as of 10 p.m. from Los Angeles County, showed the top two runners were incumbent Mayor Cameron Smyth with 31% of the vote or 41,690 votes; and Jason Gibbs, deputy director of West Coast Operations for GP Strategies Corp, with 15.86% (21,332).

“I’m certainly appreciative of the people of Santa Clarita basically rehiring me for another four years,” said Smyth. “I know that 2020 was a difficult year with difficult decisions but I think the results here show that people knew that the only consideration I had was trying to do what’s best for the city.” 

State Assembly candidate Suzette Martinez Valladares, left, and Santa Clarita Mayor Cameron Smyth inspire supporters as they read the early returns at a GOP election night party held in Valencia on Tuesday, November 03, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

For Gibbs, results were still preliminary Tuesday night but he was hopeful for the lead he had over Kelvin Driscoll. 

“We’re happy to see where we are now from the first drop (of votes) to the second drop,” Gibbs said. “Regardless of how it ends up, I feel it’s been a great experience.”

Candidates just behind included Driscoll, a program director for the L.A. County Department of Public Social Services, with 14.97% (20,136); Chris Werthe, an Army reservist and engineer with 11.67% of the vote and TimBen Boydston, Canyon Guild Theatre Guild executive director with 9.95%.

After all the remaining votes are counted, the top two candidates will emerge as winners.

The seats held by Smyth and longtime Councilman Bob Kellar are up for election. In July, Kellar confirmed that, after serving the city for more than 19 years, he would not run again. 

Throughout their campaigns, challengers in the run tackled some of the most current, pressing issues facing Santa Clarita, including economic recovery from the pandemic, whether they would change the city’s funding level for the Sheriff’s Department, whether they supported the establishment of a local health department, homelessness, housing and whether they believed the city is systemically racist. 

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