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Santa Clarita City Council race expands to a possible 6

Water board member says she’s running; so do 2 of 3 incumbents

Posted: January 24, 2013 6:40 p.m.
Updated: January 24, 2013 6:40 p.m.
Laurene Weste Laurene Weste
Laurene Weste
Diane Trautman Diane Trautman
Diane Trautman
Marsha McLean Marsha McLean
Marsha McLean
Marie Gutzeit Marie Gutzeit
Marie Gutzeit
Alan Ferdman Alan Ferdman
Alan Ferdman

The next race for Santa Clarita City Council — slated for more than 14 months from now — swung into high gear Thursday as another challenger said she would run, two more said they were thinking about it and two sitting council members said they would seek to retain their seats.

Meantime, the challenger who declared earlier this week, Gloria Mercado-Fortine, held a news conference at City Hall Thursday outlining her candidacy. Mercado-Fortine, a member of the William S. Hart High School District board, announced she was running on Wednesday.

Three seats will be up for grabs in the election in April 2014, those of Frank Ferry, Marsha McLean and Laurene Weste. Both McLean and Weste said Thursday they would seek re-election.

Ferry could not be reached for comment.

All three have served more than a decade, and Mercado-Fortine and most potential challengers have suggested a fresh perspective is needed.

Maria Gutzeit, president of the Newhall County Water District, said she will definitely run, but she was concentrating on other issues at the present time.

Pondering a run for one of the seats are Diane Trautman and Alan Ferdman.

Gutzeit said she is certain she will pursue a council seat in 2014, but for now she is focused on winning re-election in November 2013 to the Newhall County Water District Board.

Gutzeit compared her plan to that of Assemblyman Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, who first campaigned and won re-election to the College of the Canyons Board of Trustees in November 2011 before conducting his successful campaign for state Assembly in November 2012.

The COC board recently appointed a replacement for Wilk.

For now, Gutzeit said, “I think we do owe our current office our full attention.”

A member of the Newhall County Water District board since 2003, Gutzeit unsuccessfully ran for City Council in 2008.

She said she is running again for two major reasons: Her affection for the city and her desire to serve it as a public official.

“It may take more than one time to get on the City Council, but I’m willing to do it mostly because I love the community,” she said.

Gutzeit is not the only potential candidate who has previously run for City Council. Trautman has run twice before — in 2000 and 2008.

Currently a member of the Santa Clarita Planning Commission, Trautman said she thinks her experience on the commission would serve her well on the council.

Some current council members may not be able to devote their full time to the city’s governing body, she said.

“I think it is time for fresh blood, and I think it is time for council members who are able and willing to commit the time necessary for the job,” she said. “I’m not convinced that’s the case now.”

She declined to name the council members she thinks lack sufficient time for the task.

Trautman said she is currently exploring the possibility of running in 2014. She will decide in the next few months whether to declare her candidacy, she said.

Ferdman, the longtime chairman of the Canyon Country Advisory Committee, said he has formed an exploratory committee and will decide whether to enter the race in about two months.

Despite his long focus on Canyon Country, the most populous community in Santa Clarita, Ferdman said he would work to represent the entire city if elected.

“I don’t think it’s productive to attack or to lament those who have served for the last 10 years,” Ferdman said of the incumbents. “But we need a new set of eyes on the council.”

Reached by phone Thursday, McLean confirmed she plans to run again and defended her long service, saying she thinks the quality of the city speaks to the quality of its council members.

“Our city is one of the most successful in the state, and that doesn’t happen by accident,” McLean said. “It takes experience and it takes dedication and it takes commitment and it takes leadership.”

“Just because you’re an incumbent doesn’t mean you can’t have new ideas and can’t be energetic about the job,” she said.

Weste also confirmed she plans to run for re-election but declined to comment on any specifics related to her campaign.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney




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