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Safety, finance debated at forum

Posted: February 17, 2012 1:30 a.m.
Updated: February 17, 2012 1:30 a.m.

Three Santa Clarita City Council candidates criticized the county’s proposed location for a new Santa Clarita Valley sheriff’s station while the other two traded barbs over a developer’s loan during a forum with Canyon Country residents this week.

Deputy district attorney and challenger Jon Hatami, who is married to a Santa Clarita Valley sheriff’s deputy, said while the proposal to build a new station is a great idea, the proposed location at Castaic Junction would be inconvenient because it would be far from Canyon Country.

Hatami has stated throughout his campaign that a new Canyon Country sheriff substation is needed.

“The new police station will be even further than the current one to Canyon Country residents,” Hatami said during the Canyon Country Advisory Committee-hosted candidate “meet and greet” Wednesday night.

But in a news release sent out Thursday night, Hatami praised Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich for the proposal to purchase land in Castaic for a new sheriff’s station and turned his criticism on the city for not knowing about the county’s move.

“I support that decision 100 percent,” Hatami said of the county vote.

County supervisors agreed Tuesday to move ahead on a plan to locate the SCV Sheriff’s Station in Castaic and shut down the existing station in Valencia. The move, which requires final supervisors’ approval, caught city officials by surprise.

Former Councilman TimBen Boydston, who is also running for one of two council seats in the April 10 election, said his goal will be to work more closely with the county on issues to avoid communication problems like that involving the Sheriff’s Station.

Mayor and incumbent Laurie Ender said the Board of Supervisors didn’t consult with other county officials before making its move, and that’s why she was upset. She said she wants to keep the existing station open and in operation.

The supervisors’ vote Tuesday authorizes county CEO William Fujioka to look into buying six acres of land west of Interstate 5 near the existing California Highway Patrol station and build a 45,000-square-foot sheriff’s station there, replacing the one in Valencia, which has operated since 1972.

The Canyon Country forum Wednesday night was different than previous ones for the current City Council race, with candidates providing opening statements and then answering questions individually from the audience.

Although many of the candidates’ concerns had been aired at prior forums, one brought up Wednesday night was about an allegation that City Councilman and incumbent Bob Kellar violated the Political Reform Act by accepting a personal loan from a local developer.

Castaic Lake Water Agency board member and challenger Ed Colley had filed a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission and with the Los Angeles County District Attorney earlier this month after finding information about the loan in a binder of financial statements.

The district attorney dismissed the issue.

In response to a resident’s question about making a commitment not to engage in “dirty or unethical” practices against other candidates, Colley said  he wanted to bring the question about the loan to the proper authorities.

“I would hope that most people in this room, if they become aware of a concern that anyone has violated a significant law, that they would report it to the proper authorities,” Colley said.

In a response to what he called “innuendo,” Kellar said he never voted on anything that had to do with the developer who gave him the loan, and that he does not dig through files looking for dirt on other candidates.

“I did not spend 12 years on the City Council and 25 years on the LAPD to come out here and figure out a way to be corrupt and cheat you, the citizens of Santa Clarita,” Kellar said.

A spokeswoman from the Fair Political Practices Commission said Thursday the commission has not yet decided whether it will investigate Kellar’s loan.

More than 100 residents attended the Canyon Country Advisory Committee event.

Candidates also spoke about their key issues in both their opening and closing statement.

One of Boydston’s top concerns has been better communication between the City Council and the city’s residents. Hatami’s major concern has been public safety, especially preventing crime and drug abuse.

Among Ender’s top campaign issues has been keeping local control over local services, while Colley is seeking to fight the Cemex mine, traffic congestion and drug abuse.

Kellar has called for public safety improvements and building more facilities in Canyon Country.


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