By The Signal Editorial Board
We love Santa Clarita and we love living here.
Santa Clarita is one of the safest, cleanest cities in America. We have a fiscally responsible city, a very low crime rate and a very small homelessness problem compared to other cities our size.
We also love the people who live here. By and large, they are caring, generous, friendly people.
A couple of weeks ago we ran a story in The Signal about the city allowing an old oak tree to be cut down. That story garnered a lot of attention and comments on our website and social media, and many residents were outraged that the city would cut down an oak tree, even if it was diseased.
It had to make us laugh.
Look, we don’t want the city cutting down oak trees indiscriminately — BUT… what a first-world problem that is.
We had to muse about how in other cities they are worried and talking about their murder rates going through the roof, about homeless people on every corner, needles and drug paraphernalia on every street, dirty water, decrepit streets or a city in bankruptcy.
In many cities our size, citizens don’t even feel comfortable just being able to take a walk.
All this, while we are worried about an oak tree. We sure are lucky to live in Santa Clarita.
It’s a tribute to a well-run city, and a great deal of the credit goes to the “executive branch” of our city, the staff as led by City Manager Ken Striplin. If Striplin were an elected official, we would wholeheartedly endorse him for re-election.
It’s true that, in a council-manager form of government, as we have in Santa Clarita, the city manager takes direction from the City Council. On the whole, the various iterations of our City Council have done an excellent job of providing that direction over the past 20 years, for all the reasons cited above.
And we thank them for that.
Yet the fact remains that, for the most part, the council has remained about the same for the past 20 years without much new blood.
Four years ago we first sounded the alarm in our council endorsements as we endorsed new people for the council. Not because the city was badly run, but because we know we have to pass the torch for the city to endure.
Two years ago, we raised the same issues with our endorsements, seeking an injection of new blood, which met with success in the election of our very capable Councilman Jason Gibbs, now midway through his first term.
We feel we must do the same thing again this year.
Santa Clarita is a great city and it’s running well, but we need some new leadership for the city to continue building on its success. Regrettably, though, we are not completely confident in all the newcomers who are running.
There are several challengers who are entirely capable people, and on a personal level, we like them quite well. But we do have some ideological differences with them that would preclude our endorsement.
For these reasons, we are endorsing challenger Denise Lite, along with incumbents Bill Miranda and Laurene Weste.
Our endorsement of Lite represents our desire to see a passing of the torch on the council dais. Lite, an attorney with experience as a mediator, is a familiar face on the local nonprofit scene, in particular through her involvement with Soroptimist International of Valencia.
Lite’s background in conflict resolution and community service has prepared her well to serve the community on the council, and we are confident she will do well representing the next wave of local leadership.
Miranda is seeking his second full term on the council, having been elected in 2018 after being appointed in 2017 to fill a vacant seat. Miranda, a 35-year Santa Clarita resident, is as community-minded as they come.
He has a track record of business advocacy and of building bridges between different segments of the community. He is the second-shortest tenured member of the council and we believe he still has more to contribute in moving our city forward.
Our third endorsement goes to Weste, who has served on the council since 1998.
Weste’s record of community service is undeniable, particularly when it comes to open space and historical preservation. She is serving her sixth term as mayor — a position that’s chosen by the council every year and informally rotates among council members, with an occasional exception.
Six times as mayor — to be honest, considering the informal rotation of the position among five council members, we don’t think anyone should serve long enough on the council to rack up six terms as mayor.
This time around, though, we are recommending Weste for re-election — for the reasons cited above.
But in 2024 and 2026, especially as the council switches from at-large elections to by-district voting, we hope to see a stronger field of new leaders who are prepared to take the handoff, and carry the torch as the next generation of council members continues to ensure that Santa Clarita remains a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family.