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Excerpts from our talks with the candidates

Posted: March 12, 2010 6:40 p.m.
Updated: March 14, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 
Editor's note: The Signal's editorial board invited each of the candidates for April's City Council election to meet with us and answer a series of questions about their candidacy. Here, encapsulated, are their responses. We thank each candidate who took the time to meet with us. Candidates Harrison Katz and Kenneth Mann did not respond to our requests for an interview.

TimBen Boydston
For Boydston, who served a shortened term on the City Council as a replacement for Cameron Smyth, the biggest issues facing Santa Clarita are planning and responsiveness to citizens. "They pretend to listen, but they're not listening," Boydston said of the sitting City Council.

On the issue of development, Boydston cited The Master's College expansion as a model example of how things should be done. "Zoning is a local issue," he said, calling for low-density, high-quality housing, lots of open space and more high-paying jobs.

He called for a council committee to meet publicly to address the issue of illegal immigration, which he said he opposes. "It's an issue and it does impact the city," he said. "If there was no one picking up (day laborers), then they wouldn't be standing there. Speak to the people who are picking them up."

Boydston said the Whittaker-Bermite site should be used to attract a major employer such as Microsoft. He said availability of industrial space so close to Los Angeles could be a big draw for the city. Boydston was critical of the city's treatment of small businesses and said the "Think Santa Clarita" campaign - an aspect of the city's 21-point plan to stimulate business in the Santa Clarita Valley - was ineffective. Waiving fees and meeting business' needs is what should be done, he said.

Boydston dismissed the city's positive fiscal track record as a reflection of the city's administration, not its policy makers. He said he believes Canyon Country has been given short shrift and the city needs to commit to a community center there, to a permanent Metrolink station at Via Princessa and to attracting more commercial businesses to the area.

Frank Ferry
Frank Ferry, who is seeking his fourth term on the Santa Clarita City Council, said he wants another term so he can see through projects that are still in the works, particularly the Whittaker-Bermite property cleanup and development.

Ferry's focus has been on reaching out to community youth, including involvement in the Blue Ribbon Task Force, Teen Scene Unplugged, community court and a dads' volunteer drug test program.

He said transportation and the jobs/housing imbalance were also high priorities if he is reelected. "Roads and transportation - we can always do better in those areas," Ferry said.

Ferry said he believes he has stood up for transparency in government during his 12 years on the council, and as a member of the budget committee he's proud the city has maintained a 15 percent budget reserve in the face of a crippling recession.

Regarding Canyon Country, Ferry said nearly 80 percent of the city's discretionary funds have gone to the area, and he ticked off accomplishments there including: burying power lines on Soledad Canyon Road at a cost of some $1 million per mile; construction of the Canyon Country library and Todd Longshore Park; construction of the Boys & Girls Club center at Sierra Vista Junior High School; and nearly $10 million spent battling the proposed Cemex mine in Soledad Canyon.

Regarding illegal immigration, Ferry said he is opposed to the trend and "I totally get the frustration of the people." Regarding claims that the city is unresponsive to constituents, Ferry said a city staff member is assigned to each speaker who comes to the dais at City Council meetings and raises a fresh complaint. But, he noted, "There are times when you're not going to get what you want because it's not best for everybody."

David Galvan
A 23-year-old marketing director with an associate degree in criminal justice, Galvan is an advocate for the homeless, especially homeless youth. "We are a large city, yet still very intimate," Galvan said. "The one thing I want to bring to the city is ... young ideas." He said a goal would be encouraging young people to be familiar with local issues and to vote in local elections.

Rather than opposing illegal immigration, Galvan said, he would like to work with the illegal population to help them become legal, tax-paying citizens. "I want to help people have the right to be here," he said.

Galvan also called on the city to dedicate more resources to small businesses and to help people find jobs. He suggested a monthly job fair at the Sports Complex.

David Gauny
Gauny, who is best known in the Santa Clarita Valley for opposing the proposed expansion of Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, said keystones to his candidacy are greater support for small businesses and greater responsiveness on the part of the City Council to community needs.

Gauny criticized the city's 21-point plan for stimulating local businesses as selling short small business, which he said makes up 70 percent of the city's business community. He criticized the sitting City Council as lacking a vision for planning and allowing city staff to set development trends.

Gauny said he is opposed to illegal immigration and said the city should form a citizens' task force to determine what more can be done. He said the city treats Canyon Country as an "afterthought."

Gauny called for the Whittaker-Bermite site to host the campus of a major corporation that would generate high-paying, clean jobs and he said the city needs to improve its relationship with the unincorporated westside.

Daniel Henriquez
Henriquez, a resident of Stone Crest in Canyon Country, called for greater transparency in local government and more incentives for businesses to hire local residents.

"The city needs to help build and promote more jobs here and have more jobs for residents," he said. Credits for businesses that hire local residents should be considered.

Henriquez, an eight-year resident of the Santa Clarita Valley, challenged some of the city's claims regarding the impact of the proposed Cemex mine in Soledad Canyon and said the city needs to be more honest and transparent.

"I believe my financial background" would serve the city well, said Henriquez, who has a master's degree in business and tax law.

On the issue of illegal immigration, Henriquez challenged the statement that the city's hands are tied on the issue and said he favors temporary work visas "as long as it's being done correctly."

"Government needs to be rotated out so it does not become stagnant," he said. "Government is a privilege, not a career." He called for greater representation of Canyon Country on the City Council.

Marsha McLean
Seeking her third term in office, McLean has specialized in Santa Clarita relationships with agencies outside the immediate valley, such as her work with the League of California Cities.

She defines her job as city councilwoman as a go-between for residents and city staff and said her experience with different levels of government, from the Los Angeles Police Department to the U.S. State Department, has given her the "know-how to cut through red tape."

McLean cited the city's economic success - it has a lower unemployment rate than Los Angeles County, the state and the nation - its balanced budget, 21-point plan for promoting local business and the lack of a utility or business tax as reasons why she should be returned to office.

"Residents are still concerned with traffic," she said. "You can always learn more. We're very willing to listen to people's concerns."

Regarding illegal immigration, McLean said she is opposed to illegal immigration and noted that a public study session has been approved by the council so possible remedies can be considered.

McLean noted municipal governments have been strong-armed into considering more dense development (AB 32 and SB 375) but noted she recently gave a tour to an out-of-town legislator and he was astonished at the amount of open space in the city.

She said the city has succeeded in having Santa Clara River property donated for public space; securing land for trails, bicycle paths and parks; and prevailing on developers to build "turnkey" schools.

On the issue of Canyon Country, McLean said the area is hampered by lack of a master plan but that the city has spent lots of money opening two parks and making other improvements there.

Johnny Pride
Pride, 26, said his primary goals are making Santa Clarita more affordable and supporting small businesses. He said the fees for city permits, including business permits, are too high.

Pride also criticized traffic flow in the city, saying motorcycle riders don't trip traffic sensors in the road and can be stuck at lights for five minutes or more. He said traffic is too heavy around schools where parents drop off their students, and that too many "feeder streets" with signals slow traffic excessively along major thoroughfares. He called for more collector roads and fewer signals.

He said he is opposed to illegal immigration, adding: "I don't think it is a city issue."

He said Canyon Country needs to be cleaned up and that, as a council member, he would get involved with the owners of business centers in Canyon Country to help beautify the area.

Henry Schultz
Schultz, a longtime activist, Sierra Club member and former Parks and Recreation Commission member, is critical of what he called dense development within the city and resultant traffic problems. He criticized the One Valley, One Vision general plan drawn up by the city and the county, and the so-called "Valley of Villages" concept - which calls for concentrations of homes, employers and recreational activities surrounded by open space or relative open space - adding that such a proposal for the Casden property at the mouth of Placerita Canyon in Newhall is a "horrible idea." Such plans place too much traffic on roads that aren't designed for it, he said.

He criticized approval of development plans that lack adequate water supplies, citing Newhall Ranch as an example, and said the city needs to be more active in securing water supplies. (The Newhall Ranch site is in unincorporated Los Angeles County.)

Regarding illegal immigration, Schultz said the issue isn't a local one but could be addressed locally, calling on the city to "find something practical to do about it."

Schultz said he's running a clean-money campaign and joked, "I have tons of leftover signs" from previous runs for City Council.

Laurene Weste
Weste is a Newhall resident seeking her fourth term on the council. A resident of the valley for more than 40 years, she said "It is a very unique community. I'm proud of the community as planned and the ... sense of community."

Asked about what she brings to the council, Weste pointed to her work on the city's trail system. "We went from no trails, to 60 miles - that's unique," she said. She also cited her work to preserve open space, and added there are 14,000 acres of green space in and around the city - 4,000 acres of it in the city's jurisdiction.

Weste is concerned about the city's continued need to maintain a balanced budget, and praised the fact there have been no layoffs at City Hall. She said she would like to see a stronger focus on the arts, as well as advocating more programs locally for children and seniors.

Weste said sprawl has been a problem in the valley, and added the council needs to look to the future when considering planning and growth.

Weste opposes illegal immigration and supports the work of the city to start gathering information on what can be done to address at the local level the problems caused by it.

"As a municipality ... we can only look at what our options are. We don't want crime in our community," she said.

She said the city needs to continue to be business-friendly, and added that not having business license fees is part of that.

When it comes to Canyon Country, she pointed to work that has been done on infrastructure and parks in the past several years.

"Canyon Country is much better than it was years ago," she said. "(But) it has a long way to go. ... I'm not giving up on any area of Santa Clarita."

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