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Five candidates discuss goals at VIA luncheon

Posted: March 20, 2008 1:41 a.m.
Updated: May 21, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Maria Gutzeit, candidate for Santa Clarita City Council, speaks at the Valley Industrial Association's monthly luncheon.

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The five City Council candidates addressed the local business community on topics ranging from affordable housing to transportation needs during a Tuesday forum hosted by the Valley Industrial Association.

The candidates, who are hoping to snag one of the two council seats that will expire in April, were allowed five minutes to outline their platforms and goals while fielding the handful of questions from the audience of around 70 local business leaders.

Although comments from the audience were limited, Planning Commissioner Bill Kennedy asked what initiatives candidates would take to increase or improve the business climate.

Bob Kellar, Santa Clarita mayor and incumbent candidate, brought up shopping locally as a way to help one another through the current slow economy. Planning Commissioner Diane Trautman and former sheriff's captain Bob Spierer explained the need to streamline City Hall's process for businesses and offer assistance to local companies by building partnerships with the College of the Canyons and the Small Business Development Center.

Laurie Ender, parks and recreation commissioner, said that the proposed expansion of Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital could create high paying jobs and job opportunities at other levels, as well.

"There is a tremendous opportunity ahead of us as we look to expand the hospital," she said.

During each candidate's five minutes before the crowd at the Hyatt Valencia, City Council hopefuls summarized their qualifications while setting forth their election platforms.

Maria Gutzeit, Newhall County Water District board director, highlighted her goals of putting more sheriff's deputies on the streets, recruiting higher paying jobs for the local area, removing graffiti and enforcing code violations and continuing open space preservation.

When asked about the need for workforce housing in the Santa Clarita Valley, Gutzeit acknowledged the issue, noting that there is a "need to target housing for seniors, teachers and the police force," as well as bringing housing costs into the more affordable range.

Trautman highlighted a series of issues, ranging from traffic problems to creating a new sheriff's station and substation and explained how they are related.

"All these things are linked," she said, noting the need to look at the details before examining the bigger picture.

As for increasing tourism to Santa Clarita, Trautman explained that a cultural arts center would be a boost.

Spierer focused on public safety, explaining that without public safety, people won't want to live in the local area, and businesses won't want to operate here either.

"It all starts with public safety," he said.

Ender explained how she has been able to apply her background in the television industry to assist local nonprofit organizations.

As for Santa Clarita's lifestyle, Ender said, "The quality of life relies on the economic health of the community."

To aid businesses, Ender brought up the points of creating local jobs, supporting local businesses and keeping tax revenues in the city.

Kellar spent his time addressing illegal immigrants in Santa Clarita and cited a report from Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich estimating the total cost for illegal immigrants at $1 billion annually for taxpayers.

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