Berta Gonzalez-Harper | We Don’t Need Fiefdoms

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

The following is a copy of a letter to the Santa Clarita City Council: 

I write to express my opposition to City Council voting districts with additional comments regarding the Oct. 19 letter submitted by Attorney Scott J. Rafferty. 

I again reiterate my belief that council voting districts create fiefdoms where individually represented communities become adversaries vying for the same pot of funds and services instead of working together for the common good of the entire city and its residents. 

These council districts create divisions instead of a sense of unity within the entire city. Individual districts serve to create a base for power brokers who elect their own choice candidates and where those less well funded have little or no chance at succeeding, nor have anyone else to seek redress for their issues. Districts are racially, ethnically and economically divisive instead of inclusive of diverse groups and political viewpoints. 

Just look at the city of Los Angeles if you need examples. They have their own individual area City Council representatives and yet there is a vast difference between the services given to certain areas. Sun Valley does not receive the same level of services or look anything like Sherman Oaks, yet Sun Valley is in L.A. City Council District 6 and has Nury Martínez, a Hispanic councilwoman, as representative, but I sure do not want to live there. Sherman Oaks is in L.A. City Council District 4 and has an Asian councilman, David Ryu, but the area has been usually represented by Caucasian males. District 10 encompasses the Crenshaw District and surrounding areas represented by Herb Wesson Jr., a Black man. District 14 is in Downtown Los Angeles, represented by Hispanic Jose Huizar, who has been embroiled in multiple pay-to-play bribery schemes and whose district is a virtual cesspool of homeless encampments. There have been too many indictments of district leaders to mention, including, just recently, Mark Ridley-Thomas, who has been suspended by the L.A. City Council and has been indicted by a federal grand jury on bribery and corruption charges. 

Race, ethnicity, etc., does not determine a good leader nor preclude getting a bad leader, either. I do not want to live in ANY of those Los Angeles districts and moved here from Sherman Oaks, one of the nicer areas of the city of Los Angeles! 

This first came up because of a lawsuit brought by Jim Soliz, Rosemarie Sanchez Frasier, and their attorney Kevin Shenkman, none of whom apparently had any interest in supporting ANY of the three Americans of Hispanic ancestry who were candidates when I ran along with Gloria Mercado-Fortine and Dante Acosta. No donations, endorsements, campaign volunteering, NADA. 

Why? Easy answer, because NONE of us are Democrats as they are, or agreed with their victimization garbage lawsuit brought to simply abuse the law and make a bunch of jerks a nice income from taxpayer dollars. By the way, Dante Acosta, Suzette Martínez Valladares and Mike Garcia were all elected without their “help.” 

This newest threat was made by Bay Area attorney Scott Rafferty in February 2020, asking the city to comply with the California Voting Rights Act and he (a white guy from the Bay Area!) alleges that “at-large” elections dilute the votes of Latino residents. Santa Clarita resident Jonathan Ahmadi, who is neither Black nor Hispanic but is a Democrat City Council hopeful, formed an independent committee last year to draw council district lines based on data from the 2010 Census. 

Now we have another out-of-area ambulance chaser again telling us that we MUST adopt an ordinance requiring arbitrarily created district elections using the FALSE premise that Hispanics and Blacks are unable to decide for ourselves who represents us and that only district elections serve our needs. I vehemently disagree with his assertions and am frankly insulted that Mr. Rafferty believes that I/we are incapable of running for office and winning without these created districts, or determining who of whatever race, ethnicity, gender, or economic status is the best PERSON to represent our interest on the City Council. 

So just to be clear: An Anglo/white non-resident lawyer, and a sour grapes Democrat (candidate) are telling YOU, my ELECTED council members, that they know better than I do what I want and need. I am a Los Angeles native and 28-year resident of Canyon Country/Santa Clarita, an American of HISPANIC ancestry, who lives in the most diverse community within Santa Clarita.

How very insulting.

As a community WE do not have a problem of representation. Our current Mayor Bill Miranda is also of Hispanic heritage, as is our Assistant City Manager Frank Oviedo, City Attorney Joe Montes, many city employees, school board members and employees, as are our California Assemblywoman Suzette Martínez Valladares and U.S. Rep. Mike Garcia. 

I do not support any of these bogus lawsuits, nor do I support these claims either. Anyone of any gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual preference, etc., residing in any area within the legal limits of the city of Santa Clarita, is able to run for City Council or any other elected position. I would posit that it is actually “racist” to assume that folks are unable to decide who can best represent their interests without the intrusion of these bogus lawsuits. Where are the massive numbers of residents clamoring for council voting districts? They do not exist because most intelligent folks prefer to have five council representatives to champion their issues, solve their problems, etc., rather than being at the mercy of only ONE person. 

If any of us wanted to live in districts, we could move to the city of Los Angeles, but as I am sure you are well aware, folks move to Santa Clarita or out of state, not to the city of Los Angeles. 

We have all seen and become victims of what happens when only ONE person with absolute power makes decisions affecting the people. Aside from all of the L.A. district examples, more examples of what happens in these dictatorial situations are Gavin Newsom locking us all up for over a year, and one L.A. County health official who is not even a medical doctor dictating what our entire county health policy is. I cannot wear a mask so have been virtually on house arrest for over a year! 

How about what one L.A. County district attorney like George Gascón can do to put our safety at risk with no bail edicts and releasing even before serving their sentences CONVICTED felons to victimize us in our neighborhoods? Our terrible L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, also Hispanic, makes it impossible for law-abiding citizens to defend themselves against criminals and thugs while our entire state is a sanctuary for lawbreakers. 

So in conclusion, say no to council voting districts. We MUST retain our ability to work as ONE COHESIVE CITY for the benefit of ALL CITY RESIDENTS without creating these segregating districts, opening the door for the corruption we see in the city of Los Angeles and other areas where all the power is concentrated on one individual in a given area. 

Please fight this insanity instead of allowing the dilution of OUR power as one united city to fight landfills, cement mines and ugly solar panels placed on open space hillsides, among other issues. ALL of this race against race stuff is just communist garbage to further divide us and allow the communist/Democrats to ruin yet another safe, clean, wonderful community. We triumph over adversity as ONE CITY and one country not divided by race, ethnicity, political affiliation or economic status. 

We are all Americans living in one nation under God, no more allowing anyone, including out-of-town lawyers, to divide and weaken us.  

Berta González-Harper

Canyon Country

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