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Gonzalez-Harper kicks off City Council campaign

Posted: July 18, 2013 8:53 p.m.
Updated: July 18, 2013 8:53 p.m.

Berta Gonzalez-Harper is interviewed at her Canyon Country home Thursday.

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Surrounded by about 16 friends and supporters in her Canyon Country home, Berta Gonzalez-Harper officially launched her bid for Santa Clarita City Council in 2014.

“This is really and truly a grassroots campaign so I thought this made much more sense than holding it elsewhere,” she said of her decision to hold her campaign launch at her house. “Some friends and some food at my house, that suits me much better.”

Gonzalez-Harper said she had been weighing a council bid for some time, but decided to throw her hat into the ring after a lawsuit was filed against the city of Santa Clarita alleging the at-large system of electing council members violates the state Voting Rights Act.

At the center of that lawsuit is the allegation that the at-large system, where voters choose who to vote for from a common pool of candidates, prevents Latino voters from electing candidates of their choice, thus diluting their voice in the political process.

Gonzalez-Harper called those allegations “ludicrous” and said, as a person of Hispanic origin, that she finds them “insulting and patronizing.”

“I don’t think there’s any validity to the claim at all,” she said.

If elected, Gonzalez-Harper said she would continue to fight the proposed Cemex open-pit mine in Soledad Canyon, place a larger emphasis on the needs of senior residents and look at the possibility of implementing city-sponsored neighborhood councils or commissions to provide more specific feedback on different regions of Santa Clarita.

Gonzalez-Harper, who confirmed her intention to run earlier this month in an interview with The Signal, joins a crowded field of those who have declared for the next City Council election, which will be held in April.

Former Congressional candidate Dante Acosta, Canyon Country Advisory Committee Chairman Alan Ferdman, Newhall County Water District board President Maria Gutzeit, city Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commissioner Duane Harte and William S. Hart Union High School District board member Gloria Mercado-Fortine have all told The Signal they plan to seek seats on the council.

Incumbent City Council members Marsha McLean and Laurene Weste have also said they plan to seek re-election to their seats.

Longtime City Councilman Frank Ferry announced earlier this year that he will not seek re-election in 2014.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney


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