SCV leaders reflect on 2021, look ahead to 2022


By Victor Corral Martinez

Signal Staff Writer

Many Americans celebrate the New Year by spending time with family, watching the countdown or celebrating at a bar or restaurant. And, many bring in the new year with reflection and resolutions to improve their lives.

Many will reflect on their year, find room for improvement and create a list of resolutions. The most popular resolutions or goals include focusing on financial wealth, improving health and wellness and focusing on self-care, according to a survey by Optavia, a mental wellness company.

Tips to improve your resolutions for 2021 include setting small changes to your daily life that can be steppingstones for a bigger goal. In addition, creating goals that develop healthy habits and celebrating small achievements can lead to better resolution outcomes.

In an article by the American Psychologist Association, psychologist Pauline Wallin suggests you make sure the resolutions are motivated for yourself and not to impress someone else. Additionally, she suggests avoiding using negative language such as “horrible” or “awful” when faced with setbacks.

The Signal asked some of Santa Clarita’s community leaders what their New Year’s resolutions were and what they thought about creating goals for the new year. Here are some of their plans and what they said:

Kathryn Barger

County Supervisor Kathryn Barger represents the 5th District, which includes more than 2 million Los Angeles County residents. Her coverage includes 24 cities and 2,500 square miles, including the Santa Clarita Valley.

Barger said life is about rolling up your sleeves to do the work and become the best person with your abilities and resources. Every day, individuals should strive to improve their lives and their communities, she said.

“This time of year, many people take time to be thoughtful of what they’ve accomplished and where they’re headed,” Barger said. “It’s a good start; being mindful is an important ingredient to living a fulfilled life, continuing to be thoughtful, reflect daily on what’s possible and keep one foot in front of the other.”

In 2022, Barger looks forward to listening and helping the communities she represents. She said her commitment to the communities aims to uplift the needs of families, bolster businesses, prioritize public safety and meet the urgent crisis of those suffering in the streets.

“In the next year, I resolve to continue working toward these goals,” Barger added.

Suzette Valladares

Assemblywoman Suzette Valladares has worked for faith-based nonprofits helping underserved constituents. New Year’s resolutions are a great time to focus on what’s important, what has been accomplished and what needs to be done, according to Valladares.

“Last year, I made it my mission to roll up my sleeves after being elected as your assemblywoman and accomplish everything I could for the good and benefit of our families, residents and communities,” Valladares said. “I also vowed to find time to put up a Christmas tree before the last week in December.”

Last year, Valladares said she is proud of what she accomplished for the communities she represents, even after being sworn in during an unconventional ceremony due to COVID-19.

“I had two bills signed into law this year — my victims’ rights bill protecting victims of sexual assault, human trafficking and domestic violence; and my bill to protect California’s elections from foreign interference,” Valladares added.

Additionally, Valladares credited her 4-year-old daughter for keeping her focused and getting the Christmas tree set up and decorated.

“My commitment to my constituents and families keeps me focused 24/7,” Valladares added, “Also, my daughter’s sweet voice nagging me nonstop to get a tree.”

Laurene Weste

Mayor Laurene Weste has been a long-standing fixture in the community and has served on the City Council since 1998. She is serving her sixth term as mayor of Santa Clarita in 2022.

“In 2022, I will continue to work with my fellow council members and elected officials on our preservation efforts to protect wildlife corridors, natural resources and the historical sites that tell the rich history of the Santa Clarita Valley,” Weste said.

Cameron Smyth

Cameron Smyth was first elected to the Santa Clarita City Council at age 28 in 2000. He subsequently served several terms in the state Assembly and came back to the City Council in 2016, serving as mayor in 2020, helping the community to navigate a tumultuous year. He remains an active community member through the Santa Clarita Valley Athletic Association, College of the Canyons and the Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Foundation.

Smyth said 2022 is a big year for him and his family, with a newly licensed driver and two children graduating middle school and high school.

“So my resolution is to celebrate those milestones and not freak out over how fast time is moving,” Smyth said.

Last year, Smyth’s resolution was to remain off the Twitter application, and he said it was difficult at first, but he has yet to be tempted in reactivating his account.

“Along with terminating my account, I deleted the app from all my devices,” Smyth said.

Smyth said he remembers reading that the resolution tradition began in antiquity and may have roots in Ancient Rome. For Smyth, New Year’s resolutions are an opportunity for a fresh start.

Patrick Moody

The last two years have seen COVID-19 disruptions and concerns for people’s health. Leading the charge with information and transparency is Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital’s Patrick Moody, working hard to keep the community up to date with the latest information about the hospital and its work.

Moody sees the new year as an opportunity for a new start or a clean slate, but refrains from making personal New Year’s resolutions. Instead, this year he hopes for everyone to stay healthy.

“Some years ago, when people used paper calendars, every Dec. 31, it was tradition in downtown office areas to tear up calendars for the year just ending, and rain the resulting confetti onto the streets below,” Moody said. “It represented the ideas of wiping the past clean and starting anew.”

Ultimately, Moody wishes for all to have a healthy and happy 2022.

David Hegg

David Hegg, pastor of Grace Baptist Church, works with the educational community at The Master’s University. He regularly contributes motivational and inspiring works for all in Santa Clarita to enjoy.

Every year, Hegg picks a biblical text for his congregation to reflect on throughout the year. Last year he chose Philippians 1:27, which says, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.”

The message is about unity and “walking worthy” of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, improving and living lives that demonstrate the character and truth of Jesus, according to Hegg.

This year Hegg chose 1 John 4:7-11, which says, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

Hegg hoped the quote epitomized his church family and himself during 2022. However, in his reflection, Hegg said he thinks his church family learned a lot from the COVID-19 disruptions.

“We spoke often about how COVID was a divisive element in our society as sides were drawn up about the regulations, vaccines and any number of frustrations,” Hegg said. “I think we’ve done a good job of showing that people can disagree without being disagreeable; that is, we can be content for a particular viewpoint without being contentious.”

Hegg reflects on his resolutions weekly and sends a weekly email on Monday to staff, reminding them of the challenges and choices they must make.

Resolutions are important to Hegg, who said, “They’re a mindful and intentional admission that improvement is needed as well as a plan intended to bring about that improvement.”

Good people are never satisfied with their current weaknesses, with complacency being dangerous for an individual, he said. Additionally, resolutions are an admittance that an individual needs improvement, according to Hegg.

He said many resolutions die by Valentine’s Day because the consequence of change seems too difficult compared to the mediocrity people have become accustomed to in life.

“Change only comes as we remain conscious of the need to change and do so in concert with others who are seeking the same goal and engage in mutual accountability.

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