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Mr. Smyth returns from Sacramento

Assemblyman termed out of office, plans to re-enter the private sector

Posted: September 3, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 3, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita, watches as votes are posted on the Assembly floor at the Capitol in Sacramento on Aug. 30, 2010.

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As the state Legislature wrapped up its final pieces of business in Sacramento on Friday, Assemblyman Cameron Smyth made his way home to the Santa Clarita Valley proud having accomplished as much anyone could expect representing the

Republican minority.

Smyth, who has represented the 38th Assembly District since he first elected in 2006, is being termed out of office in November.

Friday was the end of the legislative session and with it, Smyth’s final chance to affect change.

Reached Sunday at his Newhall home, as he celebrated the Labor Day Weekend with his wife, Lena, and their three children, Smyth looks back on a hard-fought legacy of trying to do as much as possible from the other side of the fence.

“As a member of the minority, I subscribe to the quote, ‘It’s amazing what you can get done if you don’t get credit for it,’” he told The Signal.

Most telling, he said, was having been named — as the only Republican in recent history to be tapped for such a task — chair of a major policy committee.

Two years ago, Smyth was named chairman of the Assembly Local Government Committee, which spearheaded response to the controversy surrounding the unusually high salaries paid to Bell city officials.

“As the only Republican to chair a major policy committee, I think it kind of validates my philosophy of going to Sacramento to do what was right for whoever,” he said. “I found that as a kind of validation.”

“I still have work to do,” he pointed out. “I still got a few months left.”

Smyth’s term will end with the general election in November.

Mixed bag

When he was re-elected in 2008, Smyth was appointed by the Assembly Republican Leader as the Republican Caucus chair, the second-highest ranking Republican in the state Assembly.

“This year was a mixed bag,” he said reflecting on his most recent efforts. “There were some good things.”

The pension deal was one of those successes, he said.

The state Legislature on Friday approved a package of changes to California’s public employee pension system that is expected to save taxpayers billions of dollars, even as Republican lawmakers said much more needs to be done to fix a system with massive liabilities.

The main pension bill, AB340, passed 49-8 in the Assembly and 38-1 in the state Senate. Gov. Jerry Brown negotiated the reforms with the Legislature’s Democratic leadership.

The legislation will increase the retirement age for new employees, eliminate numerous abuses of the system and require workers who are not contributing half of their retirement costs to pay more.

As a member of the minority party in Sacramento, Smyth concedes that such a representative “has to take his successes where he could get them.”

Pieces of legislation about which he is most proud include the Surrogate Stalker Act.

Smyth “cut his teeth” on the 2007 stalker bill, AB 534, in response to threats made publicly at the time by a man advising pedophiles online to come to Santa Clarita Valley.

“He (pedophile) was talking about places in Santa Clarita where I take our sons to,” Smyth said looking back.

Smyth is also proud, he said, of legislation designed to restore funding to groups helping victims of domestic violation.

Family time

After six years as assemblyman, Smyth said it’s time to spend more time with his family.

The former Santa Clarita mayor, who just turned 41 last month, said he’s “ready to come back home.

“I plan to return to the private sector,” he said. “I never planned to make (politics) my life.

“If, however, circumstances arise to bring me back, I’m not ruling anything out,” he said.

“A lot has happened in the past year: My kids have gotten older; I lost my father. But, right now, I’m ready to come back home, be a better husband, be a better father.”



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