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Tim Myers: No predictions for 2014 City Council election

Posted: February 9, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: February 9, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Local wonks and the (slim) number of folk who follow Santa Clarita city politics may soon forget the historic 2012 City Council election — which saw a sitting mayor turned out of office for the first time and an incumbent for only the third time, as well as another incumbent assailed by locally powerful politicians, including our own Congressman Buck McKeon, coming first in the election and garnering the third most votes in city history — almost did not happen.

For nearly all of 2011, the only announced candidates for City Council included incumbents Bob Kellar and Laurie Ender. Not until Thanksgiving week 2011 — a slim six weeks before the candidate filing deadline — did Jon Hatami, a local deputy county prosecutor, indicate his intention to run on social media.

If Mr. Hatami did not throw his hat into the ring and only two incumbents were running, the city clerk would cancel the election.

Hatami’s candidacy primed the pump but did not break the dam, since eventually only two other candidates — TimBen Boydston and Ed Colley — would join the race and make a respectable field of five.

However, the extremely foreshortened campaign was made interesting and dramatic only because of the outcome and by local Republican infighting writ large.

Contrast this with the 2014 edition of the City Council election. A whopping 14 months before the counting of any ballots, William S. Hart Union High School District board member Gloria Mercado-Fortine announced she would seek a seat on the City Council.

Following this announcement, three other non-incumbent candidates — Alan Ferdman, Diane Trautman and Maria Gutzeit — all announced they took initial steps toward a candidacy for City Council.

Add to this mix the announcement that incumbents Laurene Weste and Marsha McLean would defend their incumbency, and the withdrawal of Frank Ferry from re-election consideration, and six serious candidates now occupy the stage for the three seats at issue, more than halfway to equaling the 11 candidates who sought these same three seats in 2010, an extremely respectable showing with more than one year to go.

Now in the past I made easy "predictions" concerning the outcome of City Council elections, to wit, the re-election of all incumbents, which obviously did not occur in 2012.

Remember, however, that with only two incumbents losing in city history, the smart money would always lean that way.

But after TimBen Boydston upended the political applecart in 2012, I decided to quit the "prediction" business. From here forward I will only deal in absolutes, and I can say with absolute certainty that at least one new council member will emerge, since the incumbent Frank Ferry indicated he will step down.

I can also state with absolute certainty that this will constitute an extremely boring and decidedly dull council race unless some moderately mentally ill people save the day and provide comedy relief to an otherwise serious race.

Consider the announced candidates: Diane Trautman, once an insurgent Democratic politician, now resides decidedly in the mainstream after two (separated) stints on the important Planning Commission, developing a reputation for fairness and intelligent and thorough review of projects.

Consider Alan Ferdman, retired engineer and active in the Canyon Country Advisory Council, who with a heroic few other folk made the needs and issues of Canyon Country relevant in the Newhall Land-ascendant phase when everything seemed Valencia-centric.

Consider Maria Gutzeit, a scientist and center-left elected official in this decidedly center-right and right-wing community who moves seamlessly between the two major parties, recognizing that important local issues really contain no partisan or demagogic solutions.

In addition, Maria, who ran for City Council unsuccessfully in 2008, could demonstrably possess the highest IQ of any candidate or serving council member to date.

Consider Gloria Mercado-Fortine, a life-long resident and longtime local elected official whose ascendancy to the City Council would mark an historic milestone in a city government with a distinctly Anglo flavor since cityhood. Her election would reflect the fact that even in the most rarefied and upper-middle-class areas of Valencia, 25 percent of the elementary school kids possess Latin surnames.

In other words, a fine group of competent and qualified candidates, including the incumbents, who care about the city and would do their best to move Santa Clarita forward, agree or disagree with their specific views.

No reason to predict an outcome because the city would find itself in fine hands no matter what. A boring race, in other words, unless the moderately mentally ill jump in.

Tim Myers is a Valencia resident. "Myers’ Musings" runs Saturdays in The Signal.


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