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Gary Horton | Vote Pragmatism in Our Policies

Gary Horton

I live in a nice, tree-lined neighborhood in Valencia. Carrie and I have lived in our Newhall Land-built home for 35 years now. We lived in a small house next to the hospital for four years before that. 

In Santa Clarita Valley terms, this makes us long-haulers. Not quite SCV natives, but darn close. And during our 40-year stay here we’ve seen Valencia and the SCV grow from a bucolic outpost with sheep grazing on our hills to one of L.A. County’s largest cities, pushing out on our hillsides, now graded, and grazing with new home communities east and west … 

We’ve lost a chunk of that nice “small town” feel, where everyone knew your name like an episode of “Cheers.” 

The checker at the Hughes, the gas station guy, the video rental store clerk … well, much of our local human-connection element has gone the way of … video cassettes. 

Yet, community is what you make it, and still, most of us here in the SCV strive to be good neighbors.  

But while we were busy growing and losing some of our connections, we also grew in crime. Gone are the days when days would go by without serious crime reported in this paper. 

Today, burglaries, robberies, and yes, too often murders also, are splayed on The Signal’s front page with shocking regularity. 

My nice Valencia neighborhood? On our one street alone, we’ve had three burglaries in one year. 

We read with too much frequency that Ulta Beauty got hit again or the Apple store suffered another shoplifting spree. 

Sheriff’s deputies said the burglaries on our street were likely perpetrated by “tourist visa thieves.” 

Yes, people fly into the USA expressly for the purpose of ripping us off. What a nice vacay! 

We’re also told by the Sherriff’s Department that most of the large-scale retail crime drives into town from either the Interstate 5 coming south or State Route 126 coming east to the SCV for the sole purpose of retail theft. 

“Easy off, easy on,” with these close-by roadways, makes for a fast getaway … 

No one likes crime. Most of us moved to the SCV partly because it was, and still is, peaceful and low-crime compared to most other USA cities. 

But with expansion of population on all sides also comes exposure to criminal actions. In many — perhaps most cases — we’re getting hit by crime groups or gangs from outside our area. 

This stinks, of course, as here in town, we pretty much know how to live without ripping off our neighbors. Our imported rise in crime is bothersome and scary. 

Reducing crime shouldn’t be a partisan issue. And it shouldn’t be a “trick” of decriminalizing criminal acts. The sane among us want safe, peaceful communities.  

Interestingly, in international crime rankings, the safest countries are either liberal and progressive, like Norway and Finland and much of Europe, or among the most repressive, like the United Arab Emirates. 

Nordic countries push for rehabilitation and have tough gun laws, while the regressive states cut off fingers, hands, and other limbs should the crime fit the punishment, and they too, have tough gun laws. 

Accessibility of handguns is directly correlated to increased gun crime, worldwide. We truly need to face up to this internationally proven fact. 

The USA lands in the middle of crime rankings, with crime statistics only about average. We can argue over whether reformation or retribution is most efficacious, as each has appeals. America needs pragmatism, not electioneering sensationalism. 

When crime is mentioned, immigration is often an easy “blame all.” Donald Trump severely overstates this problem in America, immorally disparaging immigrants.

That said, there’s truth in that a country can only absorb so many immigrants at any one time. Every country has its own culture, sensibilities, and laws, and successful immigration policies demand these values are inculcated into new arrivals and potential new citizens. Failure to teach and acclimate immigrants results in failed lives and increased crime the world over. Immigration needs strong management. 

Trump himself recently killed a promising bipartisan border and immigration deal, hoping to boast of restoring “law and order” when he supposedly gets back in office. But the border, immigration and crime shouldn’t be political footballs. 

Everyone who’s not a criminal himself wants public order and safety. This last sentence reflects poorly on Mr. Trump, who wishes us border mayhem and crime until “he alone” can return and save us.  

If you like to eat or use hotels or ever buy a home – you’ll need immigrants to get it done. If you want nursing care during your declining years, you’ll need immigrants. Disparaging immigrants isn’t the solution to reducing crime, it’s a campaign trick. 

The issue isn’t whether we need newcomers – rather, it’s how effectively we manage the process.  

Crime, immigration, none of this should be partisan, nor is our situation unique in the world. Here, liberal, or conservative or just “common sense” voters – we must manage our local and national social policies – effectively, pragmatically and justly.  

The upcoming election will provide plenty of opportunity to choose our path forward. Let’s vote for the people and policies pragmatically promoting public security, safety, while ensuring sound economic growth and balance. 

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.

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