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Diversity discussed by City Council candidates

Posted: February 21, 2012 8:36 p.m.
Updated: February 21, 2012 8:36 p.m.

Candidates pledged their support to area Latino business owners during a Santa Clarita City Council candidate forum held by the Santa Clarita Valley Latino Chamber of Commerce.

Incumbents Bob Kellar and Laurie Ender are facing challengers TimBen Boydston, Jon Hatami and Ed Colley in the April 10 City Council election.

The Santa Clarita Valley Latino Chamber of Commerce held its first City Council forum Monday night to find out how candidates planned to support Latino business owners. About 30 people attended.

Candidates were allowed a short introduction and conclusion; the forum included questions from Latino business owners and audience members.

In response to a question asking why Latino business owners should vote for them, some candidates chose to talk about supporting businesses in general, while others focused more on supporting the city’s ethnic communities.

Ender and Hatami focused on diversity during their responses to the questions, saying that diversity is important to Santa Clarita.

Ender, currently Santa Clarita’s mayor, said that since Latinos are the fastest growing population in the city, she feels it’s important to be inclusive. She also said the city should also work to help women, as well.

“But are we doing what we need to do to be inclusive and to make sure that we’re reaching out to this community and to anybody who brings a diverse point of view?” Ender asked. “There aren’t a lot of women running for council. We need to support women business owners, as well.”

Hatami, a deputy district attorney, said diversity is important. He said he has a Persian heritage and will bring diversity to the City Council.

“I’m going to go out and talk to people, find out what would be better for businesses out here in Santa Clarita,” Hatami said. “I’d like to have some more ethnic businesses out here in Santa Clarita.”

Kellar, Boydston and Colley said they believe Latino business owners should vote for them because they wanted to focus on supporting businesses.

Kellar said that while businesses in the city of Santa Clarita are doing well in comparison with those in other cities, it’s important to keep working to support them.

“The truth of the matter is, if you look around at other areas here in Southern California, comparatively speaking, we’re doing very well,” Kellar said. “But are we doing well enough? Of course not. You never do well enough.”

Boydston, executive and artistic director of the Canyon Theatre Guild and former City Council member, said Latino business owners should vote for him because he’s a business owner himself, and has a plan to make Santa Clarita a better place.

“Unless you’ve (run a business) with your own hands, you don’t understand,” Boydston said, “and most businesses are small businesses and they don’t have 1,000 or 2,000 employees.”

Colley, a Castaic Lake Water Agency board member, said he would like to bring large-scale events to locations besides Central Park so that businesses in other areas of the city can gain more exposure.

“The events need to be spread out in the city so that our residents and our visitors get exposure to different areas of the city, and I think that will help a lot of other businesses, particularly those who cater to retail or restaurants and that sort of thing,” Colley said.


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