If the three most important words in real estate are “location, location, location,” then the three most important words in Marsha McLean’s city council re-election campaign are “experience, experience, experience.”
She laughed at this suggestion, but make no mistake: Over a long career that has included four council terms, McLean has amassed a sizable list of accomplishments, 20 of which were on a sheet of paper she provided.
“I could keep you here another hour,” she said near the end of a 59-minute interview at Cathy’s Deli.
However, if pushed, McLean lists the following: her involvement with Bridge to Home and securing more affordable housing, the new senior center and sheriff’s station; increased train service, including a direct route to Burbank airport, and various capital projects in various stages of development. These include, but aren’t limited to, the Canyon Country Community Center, the parking structure and Laemmle Theatres in Newhall, a new library/community center in Saugus and replacing bridges and infrastructure in Valencia.
McLean also kept returning to all of the various committees, coalitions, organizations, associations, task forces, councils, clubs and boards she has served, led, sat on, worked for and advised. Another handout she provided listed 28 different bullet points, many of which included more than one position or organization.
“There’s something to be said for experience,” she said. “(With) my experience on regional boards and commissions, I have built up relationships that benefit the people of Santa Clarita. That doesn’t happen overnight. We still have many issues ahead of us in which the relationships I have built are relevant.”
One issue she returned to repeatedly regarded roads. She claimed she secured $300 million for roads and road improvements, including a $47 million federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant. A press release from Rep. Steve Knight said the $47 million was an Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant to the county Metropolitan Transportation Authority that would help ease congestion on Interstate 5; McLean’s name was nowhere to be found.
Many people, most notably TimBen Boydston, have criticized McLean for allowing traffic to escalate to the point of comparing it to the San Fernando Valley. McLean said she’s ready to have roads built through the Whittaker-Bermite property right now, as well as extending Magic Mountain Parkway, Santa Clarita Parkway and Via Princessa. There just needs to be a developer willing to come in and show a plan.
The problem is no developer wants to build only roads. They want to build homes, offices, retail centers – McLean envisions a large conference center – and everything else a developer and city council want with 996 acres to spare. But since no plans have been forthcoming, there are no new roads, and traffic continues to worsen.
“You have to fight for it. You have to work for it, on all levels of government,” McLean said. “We are not finished with our roads.”
While McLean touts accomplishments and optimism, when challenged and criticized she states that certain people “have a propensity to always bring out the negativity, so I don’t believe in negativity. I believe in truth, and if I sound defensive and sensitive, I can’t help how you think it sounds. I’m trying to tell you the way things are, and I would find it very sad if everything positive gets turned into a negative.”
Still, she knows as an incumbent, she wears a target. Various council candidates have objected to various qualities, behaviors and actions McLean (and other councilmembers) have taken.
Mostly, she sticks to a pat answer: “I respect other people’s opinions even when I don’t agree with them.” This was her response when asked to respond to Brett Haddock’s calling for a four-term limit, Logan Smith’s thinking the council has its mind made up before coming into chambers and hearing public comment, and Boydston’s criticism of “One Valley, One Vision.”
City Council Candidate Diane Trautman was once appointed to the city Planning Commission by McLean. When asked to respond to Trautman, who said, “Marsha takes offense when anybody disagrees. She’s really sensitive,” McLean interrupted and said, “I’ve known Diane Trautman years upon years upon years. I won’t comment on what she says, but she knows me better than that.”
Regarding the three-councilmember rule she said, “No comment. We need to – no comment.”
She answered almost every other question. She said she reads each council agenda packet in its entirety, asks the city manager numerous questions (most of which are answered before the council meeting), and reads various other city, county and private-sector reports looking to find ways to benefit the city.
“I am in this job 24-7,” she said. “My day goes beyond an eight-hour day. That’s just the way I wish to do the job.”
She does not think, as Trautman does, she gets critical or insulted if someone comes in and offers an opposing viewpoint. “We are five members that were elected to our positions,” she said before correcting herself because Bill Miranda had been appointed. “I represent the residents of Santa Clarita. My decisions are based on facts and as a resident what I feel is best for the residents of the city.”
That is why she said she voted against marijuana dispensaries in the city. She said a majority of residents have emailed, called and spoken to her voicing their objections. When asked to provide how wide a majority, she refused.
“I talk to families. I talk to parents, and the way they feel is they don’t want their children exposed to this,” she said. “People who need access to medical marijuana should have access to medical marijuana, and they do.”
McLean turned 78 in July. She is running for her fifth term and, unlike Laurene Weste and Bob Kellar, has not ruled out running again in four years.
“I have a vision, and I have the experience necessary to ensure our city continues to grow and enjoy the quality of life our citizens deserve,” she said.