In some ways, what Sean Weber seeks to accomplish by running for city council is a return to true representative democracy, a truly involved electorate and no partisanship.
“That’s no longer happening,” he said Monday while sitting inside a Starbucks. “You have policies that are being dictated from Washington D.C. You have policies that are being dictated from both parties where everybody’s so polarized, they’re all fighting each other and they’re not following what’s really going on … to the point that people are tuning it out. It becomes so difficult that people are disengaging because of the polarization. You can’t have a conversation with someone without it getting into those kinds of things. … It’s reality and if you don’t go along with party politics, you’re ostracized.
“If I want to do something in this world, and I want to say at least I’m putting forth the effort, it may not be me that actually does it. Definitely, hopefully it sparks conversation. If you want to see change in this world, it starts with your home, it starts with your house, it starts with your community, it starts with your town, it starts with your friends. That’s what it’s about.”
And Weber has his friends. At least three expressed support online for him to run, and Jeff Martin said Weber inspired him to get involved, so he’s running for a William S. Hart Union High School District board seat.
“He also inspired a lot of people to pay attention to politics,” Martin said. “He’s definitely had an impact.”
Weber said he thinks there’s a problem when the same incumbents, and what he calls “the rotating circle that goes through all the commissions, all the water boards, all the school boards,” keep serving.
“They’ve done great to get us here, yet I’m not certain that they know what it takes to get us where we need to go,” he said. “We do not want to become the Valley.”
This campaign might prove quixotic, but it’s not stopping Weber. He knows there are many roadblocks standing in his way. He’s 36, and only Cameron Smyth (28) and Frank Ferry (32) were younger when first elected to the council. Also, he didn’t pay to have a ballot statement included (only five of 15 candidates didn’t).
Third, he has a criminal past, having pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of witness dissuasion in 2004. He spent six days in jail awaiting his hearing and later was sentenced to 36 months of probation and 192 hours of community service. His probation ended after 26 months, and his record was expunged. Court documents show Weber requested an early end to probation because “my employer is preparing to send me to law school and I would like to clean my record to begin the application process.”
Weber said Monday he never applied to law school. He also provided the name of the woman who accused him of witness dissuasion, but she did not return a phone call.
Weber said the matter was “a family issue” but said he wouldn’t be who or where he is today without having gone through this when he was 22.
However, he is still going though the matter of a two-year restraining order a court granted him against another city council candidate, Brett Haddock.
According to the court transcripts dated July 11, 2017, Weber sought protection because he feared Haddock was going to “kill my family” because online posts from 2015 show Haddock talking about going on a “murderous rampage” and that Weber is Haddock’s “target.” Weber’s attorney also said Haddock posted some of Weber’s easily identifiable information such as address, date of birth and car’s license plate.
“My parents’ house was singled out, and the car window was smashed,” Weber said Monday. “They took nothing.” Weber also posted a photo online of the smashed window.
The transcripts also reveal that Weber and Haddock don’t know each other personally and only met briefly during the 2017 city council appointment process.
“All these things taken together, it looks like Mr. Haddock has an unhealthy obsession with my client,” attorney Troy Slaten told the court.
Haddock’s attorney, Kenneth White, said the “murderous rampage” comment was Haddock’s problems with an insurance company. “They are trying to betray a two-year-old post as being something else,” White said.
In court documents, Haddock said that during the appointment process, Weber “threatened people with libel, slander, defamation for indirect quotes, but still had the spirit of what he was saying. He has engaged in – it really comes down to bullying. … I believe I have a morale (sic) obligation to stand up for people who abuse their public citizens. … I am not a violent person. I am adamantly a pain in the ass, but I’m just using my First Amendment rights to stand up for people that are being bullied.”
Superior Court Commissioner Laura Hymowitz, saying she finds it unusual for a private citizen to appoint oneself to go after bullies, issued the restraining order despite saying, “Most of what Mr. Haddock is doing just doesn’t quite reach the standard.”
The two cannot be in the same room until after July 2019, meaning that Haddock’s previously stated desire to have all city council candidates share a meal – and he invited all but Weber to do so – can’t happen.
Against the backdrop of all this baggage, Weber presses on. He wants to use his technology background to make Santa Clarita “a smart city” by improving infrastructure to support the various small businesses that he says are so important. Right now, he said, the city is not adequately planning for such basics as faster internet connections. He would like to see the entire city go wireless.
“When you have chains all over the city, and they’re what’s growing and pushing out all the small businesses, then you don’t have money going back into the city, and I care more about small businesses and the people that work out of here that started businesses, want their businesses to grow,” he said. “Those mean more to me than those chains.”