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Jonathan Kraut: It’s time for fresh approach at city hall

Posted: February 18, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: February 18, 2014 2:00 a.m.

For the last 12 years, four of the same five pilots have steered the good ship Santa Clarita.

While we know it is the dedicated, salaried professionals who run day-to-day city operations. the Santa Clarita City Council sets policy, OKs or quashes major projects and approves or denies funding for city operations.

Think of the City Council as the party who commissions an artist to create a work of art. While in the end it is the artist’s work that we all see, the council is the body that provides the money, guidance and authority needed to get the project under way.

Absentees ballots are being mailed out in about two weeks for our April 8 City Council election. Are you ready to vote?

Election research suggests that most ballots are actually cast by the weekend after they are received. That means that by this coming March 16, barring last-minute hit pieces and scandals, the election for City Council is pretty much decided.

This election will see the occupants of three of the five seats on the City Council decided by voters. Councilman Frank Ferry has declined to run for a fifth term.

Incumbent Councilwomen Marsha McLean, in office since 2002, and Laurene Weste, elected first in 1998, are running for re-election.

Conventional wisdom tells us that virtually all incumbents get re-elected. While Americans seem to always complain about what our elected officials do or don’t do, it is a rarity that an official, once elected, is ever ousted from office.

I have observed that we complain a lot but continue to re-elect specifically those who are well-spoken, say little — and do less.

We like those who represent us to pretend to be thoughtful, promise to enact laws that will never come to pass, and in the end contribute to resolve nothing. Just look at Congress.

Please do us all a favor and let’s get in some fresh blood. I am not saying that we should boot out both McLean or Weste; I am just suggesting vote for the one you dislike the least and pick someone new.

We have had no scandals like the city of Bell’s, no exposed inside deals or bribery cases on CNN, and no federal indictments as a result of an FBI sting.

But just because no such scandals occur does not mean that everything has to always stay the same.

Think of it — the majority of our City Council has been in office since 2002. If your kid was born then, he or she is already in middle school.

Thirteen faces, some new and some familiar, are eager to share in democracy and unseat McLean and Weste.

Some candidates we have never heard of, and perhaps it is best to keep it that way. But some names you will recognize and I think deserve a shot.

Because McLean and Weste are both deliberate, non-committal, and are known to take the long road over instead of a quick solution, we can point at no blunder either has made in office — to their credit. So it is likely that one of the two will be re-seated.

But just think of it. We can create an opportunity for new viewpoints and fresh reassessments of where we are and what we need.

Research, active listening and introspection regarding who we are as a city and a community might actually take place.

Perhaps new blood will coerce the City Council to start listening first and deciding second.

Perhaps the misguided statement that God’s invisible will is supreme over human affairs will no longer trump the will of the people. Perhaps the exaggerated expression “Awesometown” will one day morph into a sigh of content: “Aaaah, some town.”

Jonathan Kraut serves in the Democratic Party of the Santa Clarita Valley, on the SCV Human Relations Forum and SCV Interfaith Council. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal or other organizations.



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