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Signal hosts candidate forum for council race

Thirteen Santa Clarita City Council seat seekers outline their qualifications for office

Posted: February 7, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: February 7, 2014 2:00 a.m.

The thirteen candidates running for City Council meet for a forum at The Signal offices in Valencia on Thursday. (From left to right) Alan Ferdman, Sandra Bull, Laurene Weste, Berta Gonzalez-Harper, Paul Wieczorek, Gloria Mercado-Fortine, Moazzem Chowdhury, Stephen Daniels, Duane Harte, Maria Gutzeit, Marsha McLean, Dante Acosta and Dennis Co...

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Many of the candidates for Santa Clarita City Council have praised the past successes of the city over the course of the campaign. 

But where they differ is whether previous experience or a fresh pair of eyes would better serve the city moving forward.

All 13 candidates for the three seats up for grabs in the April 8 City Council election outlined their qualifications for office to an audience made up of around 45 Signal subscribers during a candidate forum Thursday night at The Signal offices.

The two incumbents running for re-election — Mayor Laurene Weste and Councilwoman Marsha McLean — said their years of council experience make them suited to continue serving.

“Our city is a great place to be,” Weste said. “And our city has stayed that way because we have fought together to preserve what makes it great.”

McLean said experience is necessary to address the city’s future challenges.

“Anyone can identify the issues,” she said. “But it takes someone with experience and expertise to get positive results.”

Other candidates pointed to their past business successes as a reason they would be effective.

Maria Gutzeit, a Newhall County Water District board member, said her background in politics and business gives her the necessary experience to serve on the City Council.

Gutzeit also said it is important to acknowledge future issues as well as past successes.

“We can’t move forward if we’re looking backward,” she said.

Dante Acosta, a local businessman and former Congressional candidate, also pointed to his business experience as a reason he would make a good councilman, saying it would help in his push to aid economic development in the city.

Another business owner, Moazzem Chowdhury, said he would work cooperatively with citizens to address the city’s issues.

“Together, let’s make the city of Santa Clarita the best city to live in,” Chowdhury said.

Another candidate, Dennis Conn, said he thinks the city would benefit from an increase in tourism activity.

Other candidates said their previous political experience and community involvement would serve them well, if elected.

Gloria Mercado-Fortine said serving as a board member in the William S. Hart Union High School District has given her the experience necessary to be on the council.

“I would bring that experience, leadership and energy to the City Council,” Mercado-Fortine said.

Berta Gonzalez-Harper, a longtime Canyon Country resident, pointed to her years of active community involvement and said her grassroots campaign effort shows she is putting her money where her mouth is.

“This community is where I want to serve,” she said.

Duane Harte, a member of the city Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission, also discussed his service throughout the Santa Clarita Valley.

“Today we have a good city,” he said. “I want to keep working to make it a great city.”

Alan Ferdman, chairman of the Canyon Country Advisory Committee, said his years of community involvement have given him the expertise necessary to serve on the council.

“Together we will make a difference,” he told the crowd.

Other candidates touted their status as political outsiders.

Sandra Bull said she would bring a fresh pair of eyes to lead the city.

“I would like to bring that perspective to the City Council,” she said.

Two other candidates, Paul Wieczorek and Stephen Daniels, echoed the sentiment.

“Just like computers and phones, city councils need to be updated to keep with the times,” Wieczorek said.

Daniels said he thinks some new blood is necessary on the council.

“I believe the current City Council has lost touch with the average resident,” Daniels said. “I would like to restore that.”
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timothymyers02: Posted: February 7, 2014 8:41 a.m.

Are the challengers actually serious about dislodging the incumbents? It seems logical that if you want to take someone's elected job you need to say they are doing a bad job, not that you have some vague notion of doing it slightly better. A short list of legitimate and specific complaints that a serious challenger should have been pushing at the incumbents:

1. Chloride issue
2. Weste potential conflict of interest
3. Electronic billboards
4. Newhall redevelopment (roundabout, business closures, back in parking, et al)

Why not just raise the white flag of surrender now?

philellis: Posted: February 7, 2014 9:17 a.m.

Tim, I think that they are looking to fill Frank's vacated seat.

cj64: Posted: February 7, 2014 10:22 a.m.

If I were the elderly grandmothers I would be worried. Yhe community knows what is going on, and there does not appear to be many people who are going to vote for them.

Sam2222: Posted: February 7, 2014 11:09 a.m.

Are the challengers ok with the "two-tiered" health care benefit with the City?

timothymyers02: Posted: February 7, 2014 11:10 a.m.


The incumbents will get about 5000 votes each. Challengers need to get more and are unlikely to with the large field of nonincumbents.

timothymyers02: Posted: February 7, 2014 11:11 a.m.


So six are scrumming for one seat. What an awful undertaking.

philellis: Posted: February 7, 2014 1:24 p.m.

Tim, you know an open seat brings out the hopeful.

michael: Posted: February 8, 2014 11:22 p.m.

Oh boy, once again we get to read the myers family words of wisdom regarding an upcoming election. His incumbent factory was proven to be wrong last election yet he sticks by his numbers. He must be a accountant.

timothymyers02: Posted: February 9, 2014 5:46 p.m.


In the history of the City only three incumbents have been turned out of office and just because it happened recently does not a trend make. The process is so heavily rigged in favor of incumbents that I am pointing out that the ONLY hope for insurgents is to attack, attack and attack and not throw out these platitudes for marginal improvement. It may not work but at least it would be a battle.

Who is going to do the breakout thinking? Would a candidate be so bold as to say he would work to terminate the entire management of the City because they don't like the way things are going? Would they say they would close down the Newhall Library and subsidize every automotive repair concern that wanted to re-relocate to Old Town? Time for someone to get crazy and fire up and concentrate the 53% of voters that we know do not like the incumbents.

philellis: Posted: February 10, 2014 8:28 a.m.

Time for someone to get crazy. . . . .

Tim, you must be assuming that none of them are crazy now.

cj64: Posted: February 10, 2014 5:04 p.m.

We have to vet out the candidates that support the city, and the candidates that support the public. The City of Santa Clarita often acts in its own best interests, and opposite to those of the public.

There should be questions of the serious issues. The Chloride Scam, Billboard Scam, Art Project Scam, Cemex Scam etc... have been bungled by the current bozos seeking reelection.
Responses of "Our city is a great place to be"
"making the city the best place to live"
“We can’t move forward if we’re looking backward,”
“I would bring that experience, leadership and energy"
“This community is where I want to serve,”
“I want to keep working to make it a great city.”
“Together we will make a difference,”
bring a fresh pair of eyes to lead the city

makes me believe our elections are a joke.
Too many candidates that feed the incumbants.

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