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Our View: incumbents for City Council

Posted: March 11, 2012 1:30 a.m.
Updated: March 11, 2012 1:30 a.m.

Voter turnout is usually low during Santa Clarita City Council races such as the one on the ballot April 10 — usually, it ranges from 15 to 19 percent — and to some extent, we can understand why.

After all, we live in a well-run city, and there would seem no apparent reason to change up the leadership we have now.

The city has a declining crime rate, generally clean streets, well-managed traffic, excellent schools, many shopping choices and excellent quality-of-life amenities, including miles of bike and walking trails, well-maintained parks, activities centers for various interests and a surrounding national forest providing recreational opportunities for all ages.

It may seem to be an easy job to keep such a well-run city running well, but as state budget cuts infringe on local governments’ funding more and more, it’s become not an easy task at all.

And neither is maintaining public trust at a time when federal and state government leadership proves itself increasingly incompetent and untrustworthy.

The Santa Clarita City Council has two seats up for grabs April 10, and both incumbents — Bob Kellar and Laurie Ender — are seeking re-election. They face three challengers on the ballot.

The Signal strongly endorses Bob Kellar for re-election. Kellar’s history and reputation for engaging the city’s citizens at countless community events throughout the year, not just election time, has been impressive and noteworthy.

He is not afraid to stick to his views and be on the short end of a 4-1 vote or stand against the local political establishment when he takes issue with their positions or antics.

We support his goals as presented to The Signal Editorial Board: A demand for a speedier cleanup of Whittaker-Bermite without risking any city liability; support for a stronger, job-generating business community; partnerships with businesses to stimulate the Canyon Country business community; and a successful end to the ongoing battle of keeping a Cemex mega-mine out of the Santa Clarita Valley.

Kellar, who has served on the council since 2000, has drawn some negative attention over a loan he received that prompted an investigation by the Fair Political Practices Commission. We are satisfied that Kellar not only reported the transaction on the required document, but also contacted the FPPC for direction in how to report it.
Kellar is a solid choice for re-election.

Our second choice for endorsement is Laurie Ender, who currently serves in the ceremonial position of mayor. Ender, who is concluding her first term of service on the council, has stood up for and pressed for action on many important issues in our community: drug education and interdiction; expanded and improved public parks; city partnership with the business community; and a Canyon Country community center. We applaud her leadership in those areas.

However, Ender badly bungled a public appearance, during which she suggested one of the Santa Clarita Valley’s lower-income areas should be deported to a neighboring community.

The comment was not just thoughtless, but harmful, creating animosity between the neighboring community and Santa Clarita. And we note that, while she apologized to residents of the neighboring community, she never apologized to the Santa Clarita Valley residents whose presence she was so prepared to get rid of.

We expect much better from all council members, but such a comment is particularly egregious coming from the mayor.
Ender’s name also comes up frequently among those who criticize the city for lack of transparency.

We know making decisions that are always pleasing to all the people are impossible. But decisions that have been debated publicly and arrived at with respect and recognition given to the opposition are unifying and provide a foundation upon which to move on.

When the city voted to withdraw its three libraries from the county’s system and create a city library system, the public wasn’t well-informed over the reasons for the city’s move and its hastiness in doing so.

The Signal supported the proposal wholeheartedly. But we did so informed by two lively Editorial Board meetings with both city and county library proponents. Our decision was well-founded, and we stand by it.

Unfortunately, the public didn’t have the benefit of such thorough vetting. And when that happens, the result is lingering rancor such as we see over the library system, and which is still haunting Ender now.

Leading the charge to take over the library system without pausing to adequately inform the public smacks of the same apparent arrogance displayed in the comment about deporting the low-income neighborhood. Such behavior does not inspire trustworthiness in the public, whatever good intentions may be behind the actions. We believe Ender can, and will, do better during a second term.

Although not receiving our official endorsement, TimBen Boydston has impressed The Signal Editorial Board as a more well-informed and statesmanlike candidate than the appointee we saw serving out Cameron Smyth’s term after he moved up to the Assembly in 2006.  Boydston’s priorities involve better planning the community’s growth, especially roads; listening to and respecting constituents; and locating a new Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station in the center of the city, among others.

We find Boydston is a more serious candidate this time around, but also recall the divisiveness he brought previously to the council. We trust that, should he win, the statesman will be the individual who takes the council seat.

Two other candidates are seeking the council seat, and we can recommend neither.

Jon Hatami, a longtime Canyon Country resident, exhibits little knowledge of local issues. He works in the Antelope Valley in a very demanding job – that of deputy district attorney — a position we respect and applaud. Involvement in his city of residence and experience with the lower rungs of city government might adequately prepare him for the job of city councilman in the future.

Ed Colley is the fifth candidate, and we can find little reason he is running outside his obvious desire to be a spoiler for Kellar’s re-election. Colley has served long on the Castaic Lake Water Agency board, and we recommend he continue that service.


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