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Our View: Forums a way to show candidates’ worthiness

Posted: April 29, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: April 29, 2012 2:00 a.m.

One of the hallmarks of the recent, remarkable Santa Clarita City Council election was the number of public forums held for candidates — and their willingness to attend each.

With topics ranging from business to redevelopment to public safety, job creation and seniors’ needs, each forum provided the public a chance to see the candidates face to face and sometimes to interact directly with them by posing questions for them to answer.

It was democracy at its finest.

Once again, we applaud those who ran for their dedication to their campaigns.

And we are disappointed at the poor candidate participation, along with ongoing Republican infighting, involved in most of the public forums so far in the 38th Assembly District race.

We applaud the League of Women Voters and the 34th District Parent-Teacher Association for the public service they provided with their candidates forum last Tuesday, and we look forward to the May 7 forum co-sponsored by the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Valley Industry Association and the (San Fernando) Valley Industry and Commerce Association.

Such events provide value and give voters a mostly objective opportunity to view the candidates. Good for voters. Good for the 38th Assembly District. Good for democracy.

Shame on candidates who don’t attend such events.

But too many of the other so-called candidate forums so far have been little more than shams for one Republican faction or another to promote its individual candidate. This candidate doesn’t turn out for a Republican forum because the sponsors are believed to be from another Republican faction. That candidate doesn’t turn out because he or she suspects the questions are engineered to favor another Republican faction’s favorite.

And all the while, voters’ confidence in the process continues to slide.

Infighting has become so intense that one group overtly sabotaged another’s event by calling potential attendees and informing them the forum was canceled.

In a way, we can’t blame Patricia McKeon’s camp for saying she was through with candidate forums in the Santa Clarita Valley.

But her camp has not been exempt from this behavior, either.

We have seen enough. This isn’t just politics as usual. We saw no such behavior from Assemblyman Cameron Smyth or Assemblyman Keith Richman before him.

Candidates should earn the people’s vote by speaking of their views and visions for California, their experiences and background, their values and beliefs, and why people should vote for them, not posturing to a group of pre-selected supporters.

Santa Clarita Valley Republicans are better than this. They have shown it in the past. It is time for local Republican leadership — or perhaps new leadership — to put a stop to these shenanigans and engage in an above-board process that sends the best possible candidate to Sacramento to represent the interests of our valley and the people who work and live here.


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