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Why you should vote for Gutzeit

Guest Column

Posted: March 9, 2008 1:49 a.m.
Updated: May 10, 2008 5:01 a.m.
 
You hear it all over town - we are so lucky to have five great candidates for the upcoming April City Council election. In the debates, all the candidates were agreeing more than disagreeing. We all love the city and want to make it better. However, once you get past our resumes, there are some distinct differences that set me apart from the other candidates.

The obligatory basics: I moved here in 1988. My husband and I both are local small business owners and are active in the Chamber of Commerce. We are also both caregivers for elderly parents. I have an engineering degree, and my day job is helping employers comply with environmental laws. In my spare time I enjoy all types of outdoor activities including hiking, biking and camping. I also serve as a vice president of the Newhall County Water District, and a board member of several nonprofits.

What separates me ...
But ... what separates me from the rest?

First, I have not just a list of positions held, but a track record of getting things done. As a volunteer for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, I secured wider shoulders on Bouquet Canyon Road when it was rebuilt after flooding. This improved both car and bike safety. I initiated the city's Non-Motorized Master Plan to promote better planning for biking and walking, and to allow us to get grant money.

As a board member of the Senior Center, I kickstarted a strategic planning effort so we can make sure our goals match senior needs. I didn't just serve on the Open Space Committee, I called in outside help from the Nature Conservancy. That group suggested language additions needed so the Open Space measure would get key environmental and business support, and I lobbied hard to get the right language included in the legally binding text.

Secondly, I have served the public as an elected official. There are big differences between elected officials and appointed or staff positions. Foremost, we are accountable to no one but the voters. We know how important it is to communicate all our actions and be answerable to the public, or we will be asked to leave office. Having been top vote-getter in two water district elections, I really hope I have done my job earning the public's trust. Appointed officials do not set policy, and their decisions can be appealed or reversed by those in higher office. Elected officials are the higher office, and we do set policy. Every action we take is based on many overlapping concerns.

Is it the right thing to do for the general public? Is the best project or policy being proposed, or could it be improved? Will it set a good or bad precedent? Will we get sued, costing taxpayers money? Are we following all the laws? Are we treading into untested legal territory? Have we secured adequate support from non-profits, citizen groups, business owners and residents? Are we being efficient with staff time and keeping costs under control? Elected officials must balance all of those concerns, and more, and communicate them to citizens clearly and openly.

Third, I have proven my independence and built my credibility on making tough decisions, even if it meant standing alone. All of the other challengers are being backed by one or more of the seated City Council members, who may perhaps be seeking a friendly second vote in their camp. More than one person has told me they are wary of getting "voting blocs" on our City Council. I intend to be no one's second vote, but rather I will continue to be a vote of the people. We don't need teams who are constantly counting votes so "their side" wins. We had that history at the water district, and it was disruptive to staff, uncertain for customers, and resulted in ongoing costly policy flip-flops. We had that history until I was elected in 2003.

It is my proudest public accomplishment to have earned the trust of both environmentalists and business people. By working together, we have done great things. Working together, we have plans for a water supply without rationing, even as other communities struggle for lack of forethought. Working together, we have a multimillion dollar legal settlement that will protect the safety of our water supply and pay for cleanup technology for 30 years. Working together, we have initiated a regional conservation program which will roll out valleywide improvements like smart irrigation systems and reductions in landscape water needs.

I am convinced we don't get to the "big stuff" in politics by picking sides or looking for catchy headlines. We get to what we truly need by asking, and by listening. We need to think big, work hard, and insist on accomplishment. I'm asking for your vote on April 8 because I love Santa Clarita and I love bringing people together on issues.

We have hard work ahead, and we need tough leaders to move us forward. I've got the track record and the experience of doing just that.

Please review my Web site at www.ElectMaria.com for more details. If you have a specific concern, feel free to call me at 661-670-0332 or e-mail me at ElectMaria@gmail.com. I would be honored to earn your vote this April 8.


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