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Council Candidates Debate Preservation

Immigration issue also raised.

Posted: February 21, 2008 5:13 p.m.
Updated: April 23, 2008 5:04 a.m.

City Council candidate Diane Trautman speaks during Wednesday's forum, sponsored by the Santa Clarita Community Coalition, at the Sports Complex. Other candidates, from left to right, are Bob Kellar, Laurie Ender, Bob Spierer and Maria Gutzeit.

The five City Council candidates faced off in another debate Wednesday, this time addressing issues of community preservation and illegal immigration.

The public forum, hosted by the Santa Clarita Community Coalition, questioned the candidates on the biggest issues facing each of Santa Clarita's major communities.

Planning Commissioner Diane Trautman, Mayor Bob Kellar, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Laurie Ender, former sheriff's captain Bob Spierer and Newhall County Water District Board Director Maria Gutzeit are fighting for one of the two council seats that expire in April.

As the city continues to grow and change rapidly, a concern of every community in Santa Clarita appears to be community preservation.

"We need to protect neighborhoods. We need to make sure that any new development that comes in is compatible and we need more connectivity in this community," said Trautman. "And we need to make sure we don't create any new damage as well."

She also said that redevelopment agencies should look ahead at transition periods for businesses, such as the businesses in downtown Newhall that may be suffering from the city's plan to revitalize the area.

Ender said a healthy neighborhood equals a healthy city. "It really doesn't matter how wonderful the city is if your neighborhood stinks, if you have cracks in the sidewalks and holes in the street," she said.

Ender said that the city should also work hard to "preserve the uniqueness of some of our older neighborhoods."

Gutzeit said proactive code enforcement should be a priority so the city does not "have the neighborhoods be their own police force."

Regarding the redevelopment of downtown Newhall, she said, "We're scared of eminent domain, but we're doing something worse," she said. "With eminent domain, at least businesses are bought out at a fair price."

A few of the candidates briefly discussed the effects of illegal immigration on the city. Kellar said that dealing with illegal immigration is "frustrating" as a City Councilman because he is frequently contacted by members of the public about the need for solutions, but as soon as he puts forth a plan, he is told by city officials and the city attorney that the plan is unconstitutional.

Spierer said that the city could improve its enforcement of existing laws and Gutzeit said the city could crack down on soliciting work on public property and encourage immigration agents to come into the city.


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