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Annexation discussed at City Council candidate forum

12 of 13 City Council candidates attended forum hosted by local media

Posted: February 23, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: February 23, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Should the city of Santa Clarita examine expanding its boundaries across Interstate 5? The consensus among City Council candidates is that it’s a possibility worth exploring.

At a Santa Clarita City Council candidate forum Saturday, 12 of the 13 candidates in the April 8 election discussed whether they would support annexing nearby unincorporated communities, such as Stevenson Ranch and Westridge.

The question at Saturday’s forum, hosted by The Signal, SCVTV, KHTS AM 1220 and College of the Canyons Cougar News at the SCVTV studio in Newhall, was posed via video by City Councilman Frank Ferry, whose decision not to run for re-election in April left his seat on the council open.

Dante Acosta, a council candidate, said he is open to the idea of annexation.

“I would welcome them into the city should they decide that’s something they would like to do,” he said.

Mayor Laurene Weste, one of two incumbents running for re-election in the April 8 election, also said such an effort needs to be supported by the communities proposed for annexation.

“I strongly believe that the beautiful communities of Stevenson Ranch and Westridge, should they want to annex, would be welcome,” she said. “But it is up to those communities to decide their future and what they want.”

Another candidate, Duane Harte, also said he would support such an effort if there was a popular sentiment behind it.

Moazzem Chowdhury, another candidate, said he supports the idea of annexation, as residents in nearby communities likely use city infrastructure, such as roads, on a regular basis already and the annexation could bring more tax revenue into the city.

Candidate Berta Gonzalez-Harper said she would support annexation if it does not mean additional costs for city residents.

“I wouldn’t support any annexation that was going to cost money for existing city residents,” she said.

It is typically the city’s practice to consider annexations that are either revenue neutral or revenue positive.

Another candidate, Alan Ferdman, said he thinks the city would benefit from uniting with nearby areas.

“I think it would be beneficial to us to act as one city,” he said. “I think it would be very discouraging to have two competing cities right next to each other.”

Candidate Dennis Conn said he thinks such an annexation decision should be put to a popular vote.

“Why should just only five people decide on that?” he asked, referring to the number of City Council members.

Possible annexations were one topic discussed at Saturday’s forum, which was held in two parts, each with six candidates.

Another major point of discussion was how the city could incentivize and aid business activity within its borders.

City Councilwoman Marsha McLean, who is running for re-election, said the city has an economic growth program in place.

“We have lots of incentives for business, and they do take advantage of it,” McLean said.

Candidate Sandra Bull said she thinks the city could do a better job promoting itself to businesses.

“We’ve done a pretty good job,” she said. “We just need to do better.”

Gloria Mercado-Fortine, another candidate, said she thinks the city could do more to streamline its permitting process to make it easier for businesses.

Candidate Maria Gutzeit said she thinks the city needs to examine ways to make it easier and cheaper for small businesses to operate or grow.

Stephen Daniels, another candidate, proposed creation of a business ambassador position in the city to communicate with local businesses and suggested examining whether the city could buy land or provide training for companies to entice them into relocating to Santa Clarita.

The only candidate who did not attend Saturday’s forum was Paul Wieczorek.


missyJk: Posted: February 23, 2014 7:08 a.m.

great idea we can split their mello roos tax. I cant wait for the new elections and boot out the driftwood that exists in the city council. It would be nice to have someone without a platform that caters to dragging in more houses or businesses that drain on our economy and wind off costing us homeowners in the long run with bond issues for more this and more that and more traffic and more red light cameras..

OldReliable: Posted: February 23, 2014 9:26 a.m.

Delighted that our leading candidates unabashedly support annexing our west communities. Can you only imagine the plethora of outstanding future city council west side candidates who are waiting in the wings.

cj64: Posted: February 23, 2014 5:25 p.m.

Really, the past issues discussed are very important?
Senior care, Arts, and Annexation!
Maybe there should be more important issues discussed:
Do you favor letting criminals loose from our jails.
Do you favor closing all roads at 10pm.
Since incumbants always win reelection, should Santa Clarita just drop the election process.

Unreal: Posted: February 24, 2014 8:54 a.m.

I saw my property tax go up $600.00 a year when I was annexed into SCV city about a year ago.
Be ready to pay if that is what you want to do.

philellis: Posted: February 24, 2014 4:13 p.m.

Did you look at your bill to determine where the increase came from?

samed: Posted: February 25, 2014 8:47 p.m.

Everyone in the city pays alot of taxes. The city has so much money from taxes (excuse me assessments) that are only in the city, from scams by the city council members. The money has gone to a $30 Million Library, over $2 Million roundabout, and multi stupid artwork projects around the city. Really necessary items that the public is demanding.

Everyone outside the city, think twice when you are asked itf you want to be part of the city.

The Santa Clarita city council members ,who dont represent you outside the city, and dont represent those inside the city either, voted to steal hundreds to thousands of everyones tax dollars while they were members of the sanitation district.

As members of the Santa Clarita city council, they will steal more money if you decide to join Santa Clarita.

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