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Largest voter turnout in a decade?

• About 16% of city's registered voters cast ballots in council race.

Posted: April 10, 2008 1:27 a.m.
Updated: June 11, 2008 5:04 a.m.

Anthony Calderon and Arlene Anthony count votes at City Hall on Tuesday night following the closing of the polls. Voter turnout in Santa Clarita was about 16 percent of registered voters.

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Tuesday's City Council election may have seen the largest voter turnout in 10 years, according to preliminary estimates from the Santa Clarita City Clerk's office.

More than 13,400 voters cast their ballots for Tuesday's election, according to City Clerk Sharon Dawson. A total of 12,408 ballots were included in Tuesday night's results and Dawson said she estimates her office still needs to verify about 1,000 absentee and provisional ballots. The result of that count will be announced Monday.

The city also saw a record number of absentee ballots cast. The vote-by-mail ballots in this election totaled about 9,000 - or 67 percent of the total vote. In 2006, vote-by-mail ballots accounted for 61 percent of the total votes.

Of the 12,408 ballots counted Tuesday, 8,093 were absentee ballots.

City staff must now verify the 250 absentee ballots that were cast at the polls and 600 absentee ballots that were hand-delivered to the City Clerk's office. About 150 provisional ballots must be verified as well.

Though totals have increased, the ballot totals represent just 16 percent of the 82,253 registered voters in the city.

Tuesday's unofficial results showed Parks and Recreation Commissioner Laurie Ender and Mayor Bob Kellar the likely winners and both said Wednesday they are looking forward to tackling some of the most important issues facing the city.

Ender said she wants to work on issues like the expansion of Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, the fight to keep Cemex, Inc. from mining in Soledad Canyon and concerns surrounding plans to build a large recycling center in Newhall.

Referring to the controversial recycling center plans, she said, "I don't think a facility like that should be placed in a neighborhood where it's going to impact their quality of life."

She said she is also hoping to travel to Washington, D.C., to help with U.S. Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon's effort to introduce legislation to resolve the Cemex mining issue.

Ender, who has served on the city's Parks and Recreation Commission since 2003, said she believes the new council makes up "a well-represented and dynamic team." She said she based her campaign on a grassroots effort and reached out to residents who do not normally vote in local elections. "I'm hoping I can take that momentum and that communication that's been set up with a part of the community we've never heard from before and bring that voice to the City Council," she said.

Mayor Bob Kellar, the only incumbent candidate in this year's election, said his priorities for his four-year term as a City Council member have remained the same as in previous years.

While there are no term limits for city council members, Kellar believes that his third term will most likely be his last.

"I seriously doubt that I will do it again," he said, noting that the completion of his next term will have given him 12 years on the City Council.

Signal Staff writer Tammy Marashlian contributed to this report.

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