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Volatile Topics for Next Council Debate

Democratic Voices

Posted: February 19, 2008 5:48 p.m.
Updated: April 21, 2008 5:01 a.m.
Illegal alien incursion, wild city expansion, anticipated traffic gridlock, and how we address local crime are some of the volatile topics you will hear discussed in an upcoming Santa Clarita City Council debate sponsored by the Canyon Country Advisory Committee. All five candidates hoping to earn the right to sit on your City Council are participating. This debate may help you select the two for whom you should cast your ballot April 8.

The debate is sponsored by the Canyon Country committee and hosted by the Santa Clarita Community Coalition. The forum will be held in the George A. Caravalho Activities Center Banquet Room, 20880 Centre Point Parkway, Canyon Country, this Wednesday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Santa Clarita Valley Community Coalition spokesman Spence Leafdale says "our unique debate format on Feb. 20 allows candidates to immediately rebut the positions of the other candidates. This may be the only public forum where they can comment on what their opponents have just said. We expect the gloves to come off."

This year, growth is among the hot topics facing are our city, to include the proposed Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, former Smiser mule farm, Casden and Las Lomas expansions. By allowing candidates to endorse, shoot down, or ignore another candidate position in a live setting, organizers hope to return to good, old-fashioned politics. No sound bytes. No surrogates. Just one on one exchanges.

I asked each candidate to briefly outline what their position so that you can get a sense of what each candidate represents. So, in alphabetical order, here are their comments:

Laurie Ender: "I believe that Santa Clarita is a wonderful place to live and work but, like most people, I'm concerned about growth and the problems that come with it. As a City Council member I will work to improve our roads, build new parks, address public safety concerns and maintain our quality of life. I have the experience, the vision and the leadership it takes to serve this community and to secure a bright future for the entire Santa Clarita Valley."

Maria Gutzeit: "We have an economic downturn and a $14 billion state budget deficit. Serious decisions will have to be made that affect our safety and quality of life. I understand the dynamics of competing goals and the conflict that can occur. I will bring balance and consensus building to the Santa Clarita City Council. I have the experience and the passion for making public policy work. My commitment to my community includes: Two-term elected official, senior center board member, Chamber of Commerce committee chair, open space committee volunteer, and president of the Los Angeles County bicycle coalition (non-profit), among other things."

Bob Kellar: "I agreed to enter into the ring one last time to finish the work that I have begun. Cemex, Whittaker-Bermite, Las Lomas, and the Casden project all demand extensive experience. I hope only to have an opportunity to do an affective job for the city and hope to accomplish significant progress to finish projects still in process. I will celebrate on election night because, no matter which candidates win, the city will have two excellent council members. We have five excellent candidates.

Bob Spierer: "I've had a lifetime of public service. I've been active in the communities in which I lived from the time I was a child in the scouting program, through a 32-year career in law enforcement, and now continuing into retirement. Because much of my community activity has centered around service to the city of Santa Clarita, running for city office is a natural outgrowth of this progression. When you believe that the city could be even better, and you can help to move the city forward in the right way, then all you need is the time to make that happen. I now have the time, and I want to contribute to making the city a better place to live, work, and raise a family."

Diane Trautman: "One reason I am running is to create a livable plan for our city's growth, to make sure it grows in a healthy manner. As a Planning Commissioner, I have found that, first, we need to define our master plan, and then integrate growth into that plan. Leadership means initiating change, instead of reacting to piecemeal petitions and requests. Some think the best way to handle growth is to review each expansion separately and let the market drive the growth. I will work to define our long-term vision, and then create strategies to secure that vision."

Sponsoring organizations include the Canyon Country Advisory Committee, Saugus Action Team, Placerita Canyon Property Owners Association, SMART Growth SCV, No Mercy Hills Community Watch, Vista Del Canon Home Owners Association, Democratic Club of the Santa Clarita Valley, Black Business Committee, Democratic Neighbors of the 38th Assembly District, and Democratic Alliance for Action.

You are invited to see these exchanges in person. Bring the kids and maybe bring a helmet.

Jonathan Kraut is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects is own views, and not necessarily those of The Signal. "Democratic Voices" appears Tuesdays and rotates among several Democratic activists.



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