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Smyth’s plans for the future evolve

After hitting the term limit for state Assembly, he’s researching starting a nonprofit with his wife

Posted: December 17, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 17, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Cameron Smyth speaks in his Newhall home Thursday.  Cameron Smyth speaks in his Newhall home Thursday. 
Cameron Smyth speaks in his Newhall home Thursday. 

Stepping inside the home of Assemblyman Cameron Smyth is like stepping inside the home of pretty much anyone in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Learning about his vision for community, America and the world, being at home with Cameron Smyth, is far from ordinary and not so typical.

Before sitting down to talk about his future, Smyth’s wife, Lena, is getting ready to pick up their two boys — Gavin, 9, and Rowan, 6.

Somewhere in the quiet two-story home in Old Newhall — no TV blaring, no digital beeps or ring tones heard — sleeps Kenley, 2, the latest member of the Smyth family.

This portrait of suburban life is precisely what Smyth wanted when he left Sacramento last month, having represented the 38th Assembly District since he was first elected in 2006.

He maxed out his term in office, having fulfilled the maximum amount of public service allowed under the law.

Now, just a week before Christmas, the man who returned home as the only Republican to chair a major policy committee, namely — chairman of the Assembly Local Government Committee — sits calmly at the head of his dining room table, smiling.

He moves a cell phone and Blackberry next to a Christmas sleigh decoration in the center of the table. Both are on mute.

“I haven’t ruled anything out,” he said, responding to a question about running again for public office.

“My decision to step away from elected office is based on what I felt was right for me and my family right now,” he said. “But it has not precluded me from running again.

“If the opportunity is right and it works for me and my family, then certainly.”

Nonprofit plans

When Smyth returned home to the Santa Clarita Valley, he was welcomed warmly by a wife and three kids glad to have him back.

But also waiting for him here were a job with Molina Healthcare and a senior fellowship with the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, serving as a mentor to a handful of graduate students.

Smyth works as vice president of state of affairs for Molina Healthcare, which he calls a “great fit in that it’s moved me to the private sector.”

Molina, named a Fortune 500 company this past year, provides “quality health care for financially vulnerable individuals and families,” according to its website.

Smyth also coaches his eldest son’s all-star soccer team and sits on the board of the American Youth Soccer Organization.

But, the extraordinary part of Smyth’s vision is something apart from the national firm for which he works and one of the state’s leading university’s he also represents.

Beginning in the new year, Smyth and his wife are launching a nonprofit organization that would collect used sports equipment and distribute the items to needy kids across the country and around the world.

“My wife and I are taking some of my excess campaign funds and starting a nonprofit,” he said. “It’s called ‘Time To Play’ and we’re going to use used sports equipment and partner with impoverished nations to bring — whether it’s cleats and balls and bats equipment — to help inspire kids throughout not only the country, but other parts of the world.”

In January, the Smyths will work out the details of setting up their nonprofit.

Family support

As the Smyth SUV pulls into the driveway, two boys dash for the front door ahead of their mother.

Their father has them greet the visitor to their home, shaking hands and looking him in the eye.

Lena Smyth picks up on talk of their nonprofit plans.

“I am so excited,” she says. “It couldn’t get any better. Honestly, he’s been gone so much. He’s sacrificed so much — we’re just so happy to have him home.”

Smyth adds to the sentiment.
“I’ve learned to be open to whatever God is going to put in my path,” he says. “If the opportunity comes again to run, I’m open to that.”

In this time of transition, Smyth says he’s had time to reflect on what’s important.

“When I first got elected to City Council I didn’t have any children and, when I was elected to the Assembly my sons were 3 years old and 9 months old. It was a little bit easier then. But, now as I came to the end of my term, we had a third child and I found I was missing more .

“I loved my job and I’ve had a great run and I certainly haven’t ruled anything out. But, for now it’s important to be here. I’m going to try to be a better husband and a better father.”

Smyth said these observations sharpened clearly into focus with the death this year of his father Clyde.

“I learned all that from my dad who was as busy as anyone could be when he was superintendent,” he said. “But he always made being involved with me and my brother a priority and I wanted to do the same.

“I’ve seen many of my colleagues in Sacramento look back on all the things that they are missing. And, many of the ones who waited until their kids were grown — all reaffirmed my decision.

“You’re never going to get back the time. The legislation is always going to be there if i want to go back. Obviously, this time with your family is limited.

“And, that rings even more true with the loss of my father in January,” he said. “It reminded me of all the things he did and that he really made my brother and I his priority and that was an example I wanted to emulate.”




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