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The smart, humble guy: Cameron Smyth

Posted: December 6, 2008 9:24 p.m.
Updated: December 7, 2008 4:59 a.m.
Why did I not support a Republican candidate for president in 2008?

Anyone with a fully functioning brain would conclude we needed to turn away from eight years of
"Bushenfreude." (Sorry, Sen. McCain.)

Why did I not support Hillary Clinton? Simple. From earliest days she and/or her handlers based their primary campaign not on any enthusiasm for the actual candidate but a kind of Mafioso-type thuggery of complete arrogance: "I deserve this so get on board or get out of the way before I streamroll you with my campaign juggernaut."

This last election, I realized I only possess three criteria to vote for any candidate, regardless of his or her partisan label - to wit:

n Smart;

n Humble; and

n A shared life experience with constituents.

Let me define "smart." Smart does not encompass specific technical knowledge.

It entails a willingness to show intellectual curiosity and listen to competing points of view, rather than just holding up every decision to some type of knee-jerk and reflexive dogma.

Let me define "humble." Humble means self-effacing and not taking anything for granted with one's constituency, including automatic reelection due to some perceived or actual demographic advantage.

Let me define "shared life experience." This means the candidate and/or officeholder must share the same family and other experiences encountered by the majority of his or her constituents in order to share an appropriate empathy with their situations.

And so I submit to you the "perfect" elected official for the SCV: The Honorable Cameron Smyth.

Let us start with "smart." I knew Cameron Smyth back when he first ran for the Santa Clarita City Council (unsuccessfully) in 1998.

I never met someone on the local level with more intellectual curiosity concerning the world around him.

Unfortunately, many local officials either "know what they know" or "know what some other elected official or lobbyist" just told them.

Cameron Smyth showed a zest for learning that endures even to this day.

Let us move on to "humble." Humble means granting everyone a fair hearing in one's constituency or spending time with him or her even without believing it will do any direct good to one's cause.

With Cameron Smyth, three incidents in his political career come to mind.

During the 2000 (successful) campaign for the City Council, Cameron Smyth appeared at a candidates' forum hosted by a local gay and lesbian group.

Now, Cameron Smyth knew (see "smart" above) this would earn him NO incremental votes, but he humbly accepted the invitation offered, and actually received strong praise from that group for showing the respect to actually show up.

A second series of incidents occurred during his time holding the rotating office of mayor, when he made himself available for pretty much any community event; even those occurring in precincts with rather low voting turnouts.

A third incident occurred during this last campaign, during which Cameron felt real concern about his reelection due to problems at the top of the ticket.

He walked into predominantly African-American churches, knowing full well that nearly all of these folks would cast their votes for Barack Obama, and humbly asked them to consider splitting their vote down ticket, since he would endeavor to represent their interests well.

Let us conclude with "shared life experiences." Cameron Smyth grew up in his constituency so he understands the views and needs of the generation including his parents.

He also understands the needs of his contemporaries, since he deals with the issues of raising two young children.

How do I rate state Senator George Runner? I fear he fails the "smart" label. I still recall with some glee how he penned a guest editorial debunking climate change as some hoax of the liberal left ONE DAY before George W. Bush acknowledged the fact of climate change in a major policy speech. I guess he did not get the memo.

How do I rate Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon? He definitely meets the humble and shared experience requirements, and of late he showed flashes of intellectual courage in voting for the financial bailout bill not once but twice, motivated by the words of intelligent people who convinced him even though many Republicans took the ideological safe route.

But Cameron Smyth still seems to possess the strongest legs on each part of this three-legged "stool" of qualification.

And the California Republican Party also realizes this competence, since it recently awarded Cameron Smyth the second-highest-ranking leadership position in the Assembly, giving me hope the Republican Party, at least in California, still believes in intellect, merit and the ability to put together a coherent declarative sentence.

Tim Myers is a Valencia resident. His column represents his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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