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Signal Columnists' Presidential Primary Picks

Posted: January 29, 2008 7:23 p.m.
Updated: March 31, 2008 2:01 a.m.
Editor's note: Last week we invited Signal readers and columnists to name their picks for the Feb. 5 presidential primary - and why they favored each. We're pleased to present their responses here, and thank those who participated.

Huckabee: I Like Mike!
Commentary by B.J. Atkins
If Mike Huckabee secures the Republican nomination I will vote for him, and here are the reasons:
Immigration: Huckabee believes securing our borders must be our top priority and has reached the level of a national emergency. He wants to see the $3 billion the Senate voted for border security used to train and deploy 23,000 more agents, add four drone planes, build 700 miles of fence, 300 miles of vehicle barriers, and erect 105 radar and camera towers. 
He vows to never allow amnesty. He will use the resources of the federal government, and authorize states (as he did in Arkansas) to enforce existing immigration laws, resulting in the attrition of the illegal immigrant population.
Faith: As a former Baptist minister he has stated, "My faith is my life - it defines me. My faith doesn't influence my decisions, it drives them. For example, when it comes to the environment, I believe in being a good steward of the earth. I don't separate my faith from my personal and professional lives." This is exactly how I feel.
Taxes/Economy: Huckabee reduced taxes more than 90 times as governor, raising them twice after 80 percent voter approval, for education and transportation. The Fair Tax will replace the Internal Revenue Code with a consumption tax. All of us will get a monthly rebate, reimbursing us for taxes on purchases of new goods only, up to the poverty line, so we're not taxed on necessities. People below the poverty line won't be taxed at all. Our current "progressive" tax system penalizes working harder and becoming more successful.
Foreign Policy: I believe the USA is currently engaged in a world war, and so does Mike. Radical Islamic fascists have declar37ed war on our country and our way of life. He plans to fight the war on terror with the intensity and single-mindedness it deserves. Oil has shaped U.S. foreign policy too long - it is now de37formed. The United States should treat Saudi Arabia the same way it treats Sweden, but this requires energy independence.
Energy Independence: Mike believes we are paying for both sides of the war on terror - our side with our tax dollars, the terrorists' side with our gas dollars. It is hard to swallow but this is what we do every time we pull into a gas station. The U.S.A. is at the mercy of other countries. Mike will redirect federal spending into research and development of alternative energy: nuclear, wind, solar, hydrogen, clean coal, biodiesel, and biomass. This budget is only 40 percent of what it was in 1979. 
Vertical Politics: Ultimately, people don't care whether an issue comes from the left or the right. What they want to talk about are ideas which will lift America up and make us better. It's what Mike calls "Vertical politics." This is so important he has set up a "Vertical Day" section of his Web site (in which much of this content can be found). It is a place for sharing with voters Mike's ideas and hopes for America and the challenges she faces.
There is much more. Find out why I like Mike at

B.J. Atkins is a Newhall resident and member of the Newhall County Water District board of directors. His column represents his own view and not necessarily that of The Signal.


McCain: Best for Turbulent Times
Commentary by TimBen Boydston
John McCain is the best-qualified candidate to lead America in these turbulent times. Three good reasons:
1) He has the experience and fortitude to best deal with the continuing terrorist threat and find the best solution to the Iraq war.
2) He is not just another pretty face whose words and actions are dictated by the latest poll. He is the real deal.
3) He is not a slave of the Washington Establishment and lobbyists. He is an independent thinker who has been willing and able to reach across party lines to try to find real solutions to America's problems.
Washington is in gridlock. Washington is broken. Let's help fix it. Elect John McCain.
May God bless America.

TimBen Boydston is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council.


Edwards: Most Electable
Commentary by Kevin Buck
On Feb. 5, I intend to vote for John Edwards in the California presidential primary election. Before I elaborate, I would like to state that I am pleased with all three Democratic candidates. Edwards, Obama and Clinton are well qualified candidates for presidency. In November, I will proudly support the party's nominee, whoever it happens to be.
My choice is not about qualifications. It is all about the ability to get elected. When a candidate as incompetent and unqualified as George W. Bush can be elected twice, clearly the Democrats are doing something wrong.
Edwards has been tested in a national election and has the experience needed to counter the vicious political smears and Swiftboat attacks that are sure to come. Senator Clinton has been vetted as well and knows how to parry Republican attacks, but I just am not prepared to live through eight more years of the unmitigated hatred Senator Clinton and President Clinton arouse in right-wing America.
Edwards' populist message will attract centrist Independents and centrist Republicans as well as the Democratic votes, a winning coalition in 2008. If the last eight years have taught us anything, it is that corporations will not police themselves, and there is a role for government to play to ensure that investors are not cheated, the environment is not destroyed and American jobs are not sacrificed on the altar of corporate greed and profit. Edwards has been the preeminent voice in politics speaking on behalf of the poor and middle-class Americans. It is a voice that needs the power of the presidency behind it, to make the policies a reality.
 I believe a Democrat will be taking the oath of office on Jan. 20, 2009 and I am doing all I can to make sure Edwards is the next president of the United States. If it is not Senator Edwards, we can be very proud that our new president will be the first woman or African-American in our history. We truly have come a long way, baby.

Kevin Buck is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own view and not necessarily that of The Signal.


Giuliani: Tough on Terrorism
Commentary by Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel
Rudy Giuliani is my choice for president because I believe he is the person who will be the toughest against terrorism. Closing the borders (both of them), monitoring our ports, supporting our military and protecting our people is my No. 1 concern.
Without all manners of protection against another 9/11, and without 100  percent support of our military, all other issues could become irrelevant. Every candidate has his or her good points, to be sure, but Giuliani is the most interested in our well-being and safety.

Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel is a Santa Clarita Valley resident, volunteer, and leader of the SCV Community Hiking Club. Her column represents her own view and not necessarily that of The Signal.


Huckabee: Policy, Principle, Presence
Commentary by Brian Koegle
The campaign slogan for former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee's bid for the White House is "Faith. Family. Freedom." However, three other alliterative terms summarize why I will be voting for Mike Huckabee as the Republican nominee for president in the California Primary - Policy, Principle and Presence.
Huckabee's policies reflect true conservatism. He is pro-life, against gun control, in favor of reduced taxes AND spending by the federal government, environmentally-conscious, and a strong proponent of family values. Governor Huckabee has promoted a nine-point plan to secure our borders, and is a proponent of the Fair Tax - a revolutionary approach to restructure the U.S. tax system. He is an advocate for a national preventative health system and encourages stronger positions be taken against foreign countries that present an imminent danger to the United States and international stability.
Huckabee's principles, unlike other candidates for president, do not change based upon the political climate, or what will gain favor with special interest groups. Whether you agree with his positions or hate them, at least you know where Huckabee stands on an issue, and can bank on that position.
Huckabee's presence is unparalleled by any of the other Republican presidential hopefuls. With experience as a former Baptist minister, Huckabee has an affect that reaches out to every man, woman and child. He has a personality that glows, a self-deprecating sense of humor, a sharp wit and a smooth tongue. He commands an audience with a compelling presentation and warm, personable tone, while conveying a message of conviction, vision and sincerity.
For more information about Governor Mike Huckabee, his Policies, Principles and Presence, please visit or

Brian Koegle is a local attorney and is active in the grassroots efforts to see Gov. Huckabee succeed in California during the Republican Primary on Feb. 5. Koegle's view represents his own and not necessarily that of The Signal.


Edwards: Best-Suited to be Next President
Commentary by Bruce McFarland
The next president will be a Democrat - unless we screw up.
Any of the top three Democratic candidates will most assuredly do a better job than the current disaster-case in the White House. John Edwards, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton can and will defeat any Republican candidate. So, which one is best, and which one is most electable? Take your pick.
I believe John Edwards is best-suited and the most committed to bring about substantial change for the good for the American middle class. He will also improve America's position in the world community.
Edwards has a very positive message that puts people before corporations. Corporations don't need advocates - people do. Corporations will do just fine in America.
John Edwards has been consistent and outspoken on the issues of universal healthcare and the negative effects of "free trade" and corporate greed. He will take this country to a better place. I am thrilled to vote for Edwards in February and in November.
Barack Obama doesn't have any better plans for the future than Edwards or Hillary, but Obama has a dream and has brought his supporters into that dream of a better America. He's invited them to make it their own. I believe Obama has the conviction, integrity and capabilities to make things happen. And we can't underestimate his ability to bring people together in this country, and around the world. He is a natural charismatic leader and I would be proud to support and vote for in him in November.
There's an old saying, "It's not what you know - it's who you know." Hillary Clinton not only knows a lot about how to run a country, she knows more significant United States and world leaders than any other candidate. She has clout. She is certainly the most prepared and capable candidate to move our country to better place, starting the first day she takes office. I will happily support Hillary for president if she wins the nomination.
So that's it. I'm going to vote for John Edwards because I want to make sure his message is heard by the people everywhere.

Bruce McFarland is the president of the Democratic Alliance for Action of Santa Clarita. For more information, go to McFarland's column represents his own view and not necessarily that of The Signal.

Edwards: Willing to Speak Out
Commentary by Lynne Plambeck
I'll be voting for John Edwards because of his positions on the war, health care and the environment, but additionally, he seems to be the only candidate that is willing to speak out against the increasing corporate control of our democracy.
We must have a new energy policy that gets us off oil. Edwards says on his Web site, "Our generation must be the one that says, 'We must halt global warming.' Our generation must be the one that says 'yes' to renewable fuels and ends forever our dependence on foreign oil. And our generation must be the one that builds the new energy economy. It won't be easy, but it is time to ask the American people to be patriotic about something other than war."
Eight business conglomerates control the majority of media content in America, with extensive holdings in publishing, print journalism, online content, movies and radio. In the two years after Washington removed the 40-station radio ownership limit in 1996, nearly half of America's radio stations changed hands, and by 2000, one company had acquired more than 1,100 stations. In the last 30 years, two-thirds of all independently owned newspapers have shut down. The Bush Administration has repeatedly tried to dismantle limits on cable, broadcast and newspaper concentration.
I agree with Edwards when he says he believes extreme media consolidation threatens free speech, tilts the public dialogue towards corporate priorities and away from local concerns, and makes it increasingly difficult for women and minorities to own a stake in our media. Edwards says he will strengthen local and national media ownership and concentration limits so that a few huge multinational corporations are not in charge of shaping our democracy.
The recent Federal Communications Commission hearings where additional consolidations were approved should be a warning to us all that something must change. An important component of our democracy is a free press. When the media is controlled by a few large corporations, the information and viewpoints we receive are limited.
The other candidates are taking large contributions from the usual places. Edwards is running a grass-roots campaign. I don't know if he can win the presidency this way, but I certainly respect his efforts not to be beholden to large special interests.

Lynne Plambeck is president of the Santa Clarita Organi37zation for Planning and the Environment (SCOPE) and a Santa Clarita resident. Her column reflects her own view and not necessarily that of The Signal.


Clinton: Wisdom, Know-How
Commentary by Cal Planakis
I support Hillary Clinton for president based upon her track record of accomplishments stemming from her domestic and international experience as a leader and politician.
Domestically, we have a serious health care problem. Clinton's universal, health care plan is well-thought-out. After years of trying to institute such a plan, she now has the wisdom that comes from experience and knows what it will take to get the plan approved.
Internationally, our next president must have global experience. One of the first tasks facing our next president is to rebuild our eroded international reputation.
Clinton will hit the ground running in her efforts to accomplish this.
Clinton has demonstrated her public diplomacy skills through her ability to build strong relationships and provide leadership. She is highly respected for her stance on human rights and international development.
Clinton has earned a global reputation for being an individual who can bring together leaders of different faiths in an effort to promote ethnic and religious tolerance.
I agree with Clinton's plan for a slow and steady withdrawal of U.S troops from Iraq. The purpose of the surge in Iraq was to force the Iraqi government to come to some sort of internal resolution. This goal has not been accomplished. Presently, U.S troops are serving as referees in an internal conflict in Iraq. Clinton proposes that withdrawing the U.S troops from Iraq is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, pressure will be placed on the Iraqi's to move forward quickly with their own ideas on how to organize and manage their country.
Clinton has stated that she believes in the power of diplomacy however, she is not hesitant to use military power if necessary.
Although the other candidates may share her views on the major campaign issues, neither Edwards nor Obama offer more attractive solutions than Clinton when it comes to dealing with the horrific state of affairs that the new president will inherit from the Bush administration.
Out of all the Democratic candidates running for office, Clinton will be the Republican presidential candidate's strongest opponent during the 2008 presidential election.

Cal Planakis is a Santa Clarita resident. Her column represents her own view and not necessarily that of The Signal.


As For Me, Any Old Democrat Will Do
Commentary by Diana Sevanian
I watch the debates, read the newspapers, and talk with people whose political opinions I value.
But to date, I have not decided who will get my vote as the next president.
Of the remaining Democratic candidates, I see each as intelligent, articulate, and progressive in their thinking. They reflect my own deep concerns for this troubled nation of ours, as well as the opinion that the Bush Administration has been a debacle of historic proportions.
By the time I walk into an election booth however, I know my choice will be made. And it will be for the right reasons - not because of gender, race, religion, or hairstyle. I take my voting privilege far too seriously to give it away on such non-political criteria.
Although I am a Democrat who isn't opposed to voting outside of her party, this is one election in which I'll not be doing that, not with the Republican candidates at hand. I cannot vote for anyone who has defended the Bush Administration (either passively or aggressively) while furthering our country's malignant misguidance.
Now as the leading Republican candidates suddenly talk "change" in Washington, their basic mantra remains the same: less Big Brother, lower taxes.
I am sorry but there is a lot more at stake here.
Moreover, with the myriad problems we have today, including a never-ending (manufactured) war that has bled us dry of cash and morale, how in hell can we afford lower taxes?
Shall we borrow more money from foreign investors? As it is, we are already conjoined at their I.O.U.-hip! At what point does that borrowing end? When our children are saluting the Chinese flag?
Come Election Day, my vote will be for one of three people: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama or John Edwards. Whether the candidate I choose makes it to the White House, and then delivers on his or her campaign promises, we'll have to see.
Until then, I'll hope and pray that whoever moves into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue next January is truly deserving of that address, unlike the person who lives there now.

Diana Sevanian is a resident of Santa Clarita. Her column reflects her own view and not necessarily that of The Signal.


Paul: A Vote for the Constitution
Commentary by Ed Ventresca
The Founding Fathers told us to obey the Constitution. They warned us of the dangers of excessive taxation. Now you must labor nearly six months of the year to pay your taxes as the economy groans beneath the cruel burden.
They warned us of the dangers of foreign entanglements. Now thousands of our young men and women suffer and die in foreign lands, when they should be here on our borders.
The national debt stands at $8 trillion and our babies are debt slaves from the day they are born.
They warned us of the dangers of the Central Bank (The Fed) and a debt-based monetary system. Now we drown in credit card debt as we lose our homes to foreclosure.
Now a secretive government can spy on you and detain you at will under the guise of "fighting terrorism."
They warned us of the dangers of political parties. Now you have two powerful parties that conspire against the people, plundering us while they pretend to oppose each other.
Congress allows UN and NAFTA authority to control our nation as our border is left open to endless illegal immigration.
They warned that the price of liberty was eternal vigilance. But while we were distracted by ball games and TV shows, government stole your liberty and bankrupted your children.
Vote for Ron Paul and regain, and then retain the Constitution as it was written.

Ed Ventresca is a resident of Canyon Country.


Romney: It Takes Beltway Outsider
Commentary by Scott Wilk
We are living in a dangerous world during uncertain economic times and Americans seem to have a crisis of confidence with their federal government.
That was the feeling of many Americans in the year 1980Š but along came Ronald Reagan, a former governor who understood what made America great. Under his leadership America defeated the Evil Empire, and through lower taxes and smaller government Americans enjoyed unparalleled economic growth.
In 2008, we have a chance to elect Mitt Romney to the Oval Office - a business executive and former governor that is the Republican Party's best hope to recapture the Reagan vision.
Romney will challenge the status quo of Washington and restore Main Street values to our federal government. 
His position on the major issues reflects the values of most Americans, not the Washington elite.
Illegal immigration: Governor Romney will enforce existing laws and build the fence to secure our borders. He will implement an employment verification system including fines for employers who hire those here illegally. Romney does not support any special pathways to citizenship for those here illegally.
Taxes: Governor Romney will not raise taxes. In fact, he wants tax rates to be simpler, flatter, and lower.
Government spending: Governor Romney will reign in spending. He will save taxpayers $300 billion in 10 years by capping not-discretionary spending and inflation at minus one percent.
Governor Romney is a problem-solver who truly wants to change the way Washington does business. Romney is the right person at the right time.

Scott Wilk is a member of the California Republican Party and elected to the Los Angeles County Republican Party.  He is also past president of the SCV Republican Assembly. His view represents his own and not necessarily that of The Signal.


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