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Knight town hall attracts 30 residents

Posted: July 26, 2013 5:44 p.m.
Updated: July 26, 2013 5:44 p.m.

State Sen. Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, told about 30 Santa Clarita Valley residents that he’s not in favor of creating districts throughout local municipalities to satisfy recent lawsuits over the California Voting Rights Act.

Knight met with residents during a town hall meeting Thursday night and answered questions ranging from the lawsuits to the California business climate.

Lawsuits alleging Voting Rights Act violations have been filed against the city of Santa Clarita, Santa Clarita Community College District and Sulphur Springs School District in recent weeks.

Palmdale fought such a lawsuit and lost in Los Angeles Superior Court this week.

The lawsuits allege the agencies’ at-large election systems — in which voters can cast ballots for all seats up for election, not just one representing their district — prevent Latinos from electing candidates of their choice.

They claim a different election system, such as a district-based one, would better serve the will of Latino voters.

Knight said he is not in favor of moving from at-large to district-based municipal government, adding he thinks that would lead to representatives focused more on specific areas than the city’s or school district’s overall interests.

“I would like to see diversity on city councils. I have supported that, but you’ve got to have five minds that are looking at the city as a whole,” he said, adding that he thinks the California Voting Rights Act was not “written very well.”

Knight said a possible solution would be to reach out to minority communities to encourage more people to seek local office.

“I want there to be qualified candidates that run,” he said.

Knight also fielded questions on California’s business climate, saying the state Legislature needs to do more to keep jobs in California, rather than believing “the sun, sand and surf are going to keep people here.”

Knight also discussed the issue of chloride levels in the Santa Clara River, which have resulted in a fine for the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District for failing to meet obligations of its wastewater-discharging permit.

The Sanitation District has outlined four plans to lower chloride levels of wastewater, each carrying a price tag in the millions of dollars.

While Knight said he is still studying up on the chloride issue, he firmly believes that the district needs to finalize a plan to reduce chloride levels by the end of October to meet the state-imposed deadline.

“We can’t walk in there in November and say we are not going to do anything and we need more time,” Knight said.

“I can’t as a senator say I am going to call a bluff that’s already been called.”
On Twitter @LukeMMoney



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