Jim Scott | Council Elections Are True Democracy

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

I find it necessary to respond to the letter by Jonathan Ahmadi in the Signal on Feb. 17.

While Mr. Ahmadi carefully details his arguments, his recommendations will be detrimental to the future of Santa Clarita. 

To begin with, Mr. Ahmadi denigrates the percentage of votes cast for each council candidate. He completely ignores the number of candidates running for the available seats. Statistically, if six candidates are running, then everyone getting 16.67% is a dead heat. While Mr. Ahmadi says “60% did not vote for Cameron Smyth,” he ignores the fact that he drew “twice the average.” Compared to the last presidential election, Mr. Smyth’s margin is profound. 

Mr. Ahmadi seems to think that requiring a higher percentage is beneficial. This is NOT the case. We had a plurality of candidates. The voters made their choices. A victor is counted. Surely, the hindsight of some losing candidates may realize that just a little more effort or vigorous campaigning might have put them “over the top.” 

That keeps the bar low enough for a wide and varied pool of candidates to continue to run each and every election. 

Mr. Ahmadi then proposes some changes — each of which seems logical but will have a profoundly negative effect. 

His first suggestion is for district-based elections. Despite the logic, this will damage Santa Clarita beyond repair. One only has to look south to see the results. 

Los Angeles is comprised of districts, which compete against each other for resources. Each council member routinely cuts deals with enough other council members to keep each other in power and spend enough dough to get re-elected. 

Do you think Los Angeles is a jewel of city government? Then divide us into districts. My opinion is that Los Angeles city government stinks like sewage. 

Maintaining an at-large council in Santa Clarita means that each council member is beholden to the entire city. We each have five representatives to collectively decide for us. If one member is not responsive to you, you can seek out another, and another until you are heard. And if you are not heard, you can hold any and all of them accountable at the next election. 

But to limit Newhall, Canyon Country, Saugus and Valencia to a single representative and unable to vote out the incompetent rascals elsewhere is NOT democratic. 

Mr. Ahmadi makes a second suggestion to create primary elections for City Council. City Council members are non-partisan offices. History explains that primary elections were designed for multiple candidates within each party to campaign for their party’s selection in the general election. California has stepped in the manure by confusing the primaries by allowing anyone to vote for any party’s nominee, but that is another editorial… 

Mr. Ahmadi’s last suggestion is for “ranked choice” balloting. So much for “one man, one vote” democracy. Our country’s forefathers eliminated land-ownership, poll taxes and many other methods that would skew the will of a few to rule over the many. 

Evidently, Mr. Ahmadi has had little contact with our City Council. I have found them to very accessible, attentive and responsive. He provides policing and the pandemic as negative examples of the city’s governing. He seems to miss the point that we have a very secure community for a city our size and when riots (excuse me, “protests”) were threatened last year, a very proactive stance was taken. 

He also seems to miss the point that our frustration with pandemic solutions is outside the City Council’s control. Our city is considering creating our own health department in order to assert local governance over what happens downtown and in Sacramento. 

I hope that The Signal’s readers will consider the logic of Mr. Ahmadi and others who propose these changes and reject it. There may be “logic” in their arguments, but they do not represent “wisdom.” 

Jim Scott

Santa Clarita

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