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Send Republican slate to Sacramento

Posted: October 25, 2008 8:49 p.m.
Updated: December 27, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Santa Clarita has voted Republican since the 1960s, when our agrarian economy gave way to a bedroom community of young urban professionals who worked in Los Angeles.

That fact, coupled with the power of incumbency and the current system of gerrymandering that creates "safe" districts for Democrats while keeping Republicans in their corners (such as Santa Clarita), virtually ensures victory for Santa Clarita's incumbent Republicans every November.

Locally, the hottest races for partisan office are the Republican primaries when there is no incumbent or heir-apparent. That did not happen in 2008.

Every election, the Democratic campaigns say it will be different this time, and every time it isn't. The voter registration and polling numbers don't lie. The Republicans are shoo-ins.

Why hold an election at all? We ask that only half-mockingly. We strongly support Proposition 11, the redistricting initiative that would end the system of preordained outcomes across California. Until we get fair redistricting, legislative elections in most communities will remain little more than biennial checkups.

When endorsing in partisan elections, we ask ourselves several things: Which candidate better reflects the majority will of the people of the Santa Clarita Valley? Is the lawmaker effective? What kind of job has he or she done the past two or four years?

So in the interest of providing the voters with additional information to assist them in making their choices, here are our choices.

Buck McKeon for Congress
Howard "Buck" McKeon is Santa Clarita's Mr. Smith who went to Washington. He entered the family business - a western-wear store in Canyon Country that his parents started in the 1960s - and raised a family here.

He served on the Hart school board and received the most votes to become Santa Clarita's first mayor when the city was formed in 1987 - the same year he co-founded Valencia National Bank (now part of Union Bank of California).

He won his seat in Congress on his first try five years later.

His Democratic challenger, Jackie Conaway, is a law office manager from Barstow who has not held elective office.

The difference between the two is as clear as night and day. Conaway has labor union backing, while McKeon championed No Child Left Behind and focused on keeping college costs down when he chaired the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

McKeon is the right choice for a district that stretches from the northern San Fernando Valley to the Nevada border and includes major defense contractors as well as Edwards Air Force Base and Fort Irwin.

Locally, the hottest topic of the past decade has been the multi-agency effort to stop the Mexican mining conglomerate, Cemex, from turning eastern Canyon Country into a giant gravel pit.

The feds approved the mining project in 1990, before McKeon got to Congress. McKeon can take credit for the fact that the mega-mining hasn't happened yet, and he has been working on a permanent solution.

His bill in the last Congress - a clever land swap that would help both Santa Clarita and Victorville - stalled when Washington balked at the price tag. McKeon is committed to overcoming that hurdle in the next session.

And McKeon deserves credit for pushing the Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wild Heritage Act, aka the Wilderness bill. It would protect 400,000 acres of national forest land in Southern California and determine where off-road vehicles and other invasive forces can and can't go.

George Runner for 17th Senate District
For a Republican in a Democrat-controlled Legislature, onetime Lancaster Mayor George Runner has been remarkably effective, first as an assemblyman and now a state senator.

Voters may be most familiar with him as a champion of numerous tough-on-crime bills including Jessica's Law, which targeted sexual predators. Runner has spent the past couple of months campaigning around the state for Proposition 6, which cracks down on gang bangers.

He has been campaigning for the passage of Proposition 6 instead of campaigning for himself because, for the reasons we mentioned earlier, he doesn't need to.

Tony Strickland for 19th Senate District
Tom McClintock is running for a U.S congressional seat and doing it in Sacramento, leaving an open seat in a Republican district that is centered in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties and includes a weirdly gerrymandered sliver of the SCV.

The primaries in the 19th Senate District gave us polar opposites: an ultraconservative, anti-tax Republican in Tony Strickland and an ultraliberal, environmental and labor activist in Hannah-Beth Jackson.

With voter registration margins narrowing in Santa Barbara and Ventura, the California Democratic Party is targeting the 19th Senate District in hopes of taking away this traditionally Republican seat.

Strickland will take the Santa Clarita portion, as his views dovetail with those of Santa Clarita's more conservative majority.

Cameron Smyth for 38th Assembly District
Another former Santa Clarita mayor, Cameron Smyth, spent his freshman term getting his feet wet and proving he is a statesman who can cross the political aisle to get bills passed.

He championed the Surrogate Stalker Act, which targets sickos who publish information about children on the Internet for use by stalkers.

He went after human traffickers, promoted solar energy and authored legislation to deter nuisance lawsuits against businesses for bogus violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act, without diminishing access rights for the disabled.

He also carried bills specific to the Simi Valley portion of his district. He has earned and deserves a trip back to Sacramento.

Smyth's opponent, Carole Lutness, has not held local elective office outside of the Democratic Party, but she is an articulate spokeswoman for her views and might some day make a fine candidate in a less Republican area.

Audra Strickland for 37th Assembly District
Republican Audra Strickland replaced her husband, Tony, in 2004 when he was term-limited out of the 37th Assembly District, which includes Castaic and parts of Saugus and Agua Dulce.

If Tony is elected in the 19th Senate District, the Stricklands will replace the Runners as the only husband-and-wife team in the Legislature. (Sharon Runner is termed out in the 36th).

A junior high teacher-turned-political aide and now a lawmaker, Audra Strickland has pushed an anti-tax, anti-crime agenda in the Assembly and will soundly defeat her lesser-known Democratic challenger, Ferial Masry.

Water Board incumbents
The role of the Castaic Lake Water Agency is to provide an ample supply of clean water at a reasonable cost. It is not to play water politics or use the spigot as a weapon to control growth.

Controlling growth is the job of the city and county, not the water agency. Unlike some other water boards, the CLWA board understands its job.

The CLWA board has planned expertly for our future water needs. Even in dry years, we have not experienced the shortages or rationing that other communities have suffered.

That's because the CLWA board is doing its job well. Vote the incumbents back in so they can continue that effort.

Re-elect Bill Cooper (at large), R.J. Kelly (Division 1), E.G. "Jerry" Gladbach (Division 2) and William Pecsi (Division 3).


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