Jason Gibbs loves Santa Clarita and believes that the city council has moved the city “in a positive direction.” He just wants to build on that.
“The council and the city would benefit from a new perspective,” he said. “Someone who understands and respects the foundation the city was built on, that wants to come in and build on those relationships, that always wants to strive to make this community better and doesn’t approach it simply from ideology.”
Logic might indicate that voters who feel the way he does would simply vote for the incumbents Nov. 6. This is the challenge Gibbs faces as he tries to win a council seat currently held by Laurene Weste, Marsha McLean or Bill Miranda: separating himself from them.
“There really is something to the power of incumbency,” he admitted.
In fact, beating an incumbent is never easy. The Campaign Workshop Blog says challengers succeed only six percent of the time. One has to do a great deal to combat an incumbent’s name recognition, publicity advantages (such as parades, speeches and media) and a distracted electorate that is too busy living life to take the time to really follow what is happening.
Gibbs, 37, said his time on the council “will parallel” what’s been happening already. So, again, why vote for him?
Throughout his 53-minute interview with the Gazette, Gibbs never directly answered the question, but perhaps the councilmember endorsing him, 74-year-old Bob Kellar, did.
Though saying he didn’t want to “spread divisiveness,” Kellar also said, “Are we supposed to stay on the city council until we’re 90 years old?”
Here are some of Gibbs’ platforms:
He wants the Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corporation to bring more business here.
Gibbs is in favor of paying down the debt incurred from the employee retirement program, CalPERS.
Gibbs believes in maintaining good relationships with the water agency and school board.
Gibbs says that the Lyons-Dockweiler extension at 13th Street is the most viable (as the city currently does).
He believes the roads over the Whitaker-Bermite property are coming sooner rather than later.
Gibbs approves of the recent action plan the city drew up to tackle homelessness.
In June 2017, Gibbs wrote a Signal editorial about the city council discussion about manufactured home rent adjustment procedures in which he took residents and park representatives to task.
“By the end of the discussion, both residents and park representatives appeared dissatisfied and ignored,” he wrote. “While many will hold the City Council and city staff responsible for the discourse, I believe they are working diligently toward a textbook compromise – one in which both sides will end up being equally disappointed.”
His campaign’s sentiment seems to be: If you like the direction the city is heading but think the councilmembers are too old, vote for Gibbs, 37.
One of the few times he publicly disagreed with the council was its limiting marijuana plants to the house and not the attached garage. Gibbs would have liked to include attached garages.
Another was a Signal editorial he wrote in the May 5, 2017 issue. He disputed Miranda’s contention that somebody who sought appointment on the council, as he and Miranda did, needs certain experiences along the way.
“The only requirements I recall were to be at least 18 years old, be a registered voter and reside within the city limits,” he wrote. “A passion to serve, a willingness to have your life scrutinized, and an unwavering commitment to represent our city the best that you can, these are all the qualities you should need. One reason I applied was I felt young families were lacking a strong political voice in town. We have a lot to offer, not the least of which are new viewpoints and ideas that may successfully bypass established norms and breathe new life and vigor into Santa Clarita.”
The one original issue Gibbs discussed is his desire for a new fourth city commission, devoted to public safety. “It’s at the forefront of most people’s minds, after your wallet,” he said.
Although he doesn’t have the entire concept fleshed out, instead opting to let he and his fellow councilmembers work out the details later, Gibbs said he knows he wants his commission to work with the sheriff’s department, the public and nonprofits to tackle problems such as crime, roads/traffic and homelessness.
Gibbs said the commission would work “just the way our council would benefit from myself being on the council: a new perspective, new expertise, a new way of thinking instead of us getting into any kind of tunnel vision. So, if you only had five people who are strictly from the sheriff’s department, if you only had five people from nonprofits, you don’t benefit. We need to get away from vacuums.”
As for Gibbs’ chances of overcoming incumbency, Kellar said he is “a sharp young man. … He’s going to have to prove himself to the voters, and that’s OK. I think the man will be able to hold his own.”