By Michael Naoum
Santa Clarita City Council candidate Maria Gutzeit says she’d like to take the City to the next level. A candidate in 2008 and current president of the Newhall County Water District Board, she sees a number of challenges facing the city and would like some new blood on the Council. Gutzeit views her experience in government policy setting and her work on the improvement of management and efficiency with the Newhall County Water District board as good foundations for the council seat.
Gutzeit has been a Santa Clarita resident since 1998 and is married with a four-year-old daughter. She indicated that this life change has kept her from running for council the last two elections. Originally from outside of Chicago and armed with a bachelor of science in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois, Gutzeit went to work for Anheuser Busch and then Waste Management as an environmental engineer. Since 1995 she has had her own firm, providing environmental compliance services to industry.
The candidate thinks that “bringing good jobs that pay between $50,000 and $100,000 per year is the most important issue facing the City. We need to create a climate where corporations see it is a cost effective place to do business and a place where their staff wants to come.”
Gutzeit felt that part of this would mean addressing water and sanitation fees, and that some businesses were turned off by the lack of diversification and vibrancy in the community.
“Part of what is needed is to eliminate regulations that don’t get consistently enforced and to create a level playing field and certainty for the business community,” said Gutzeit.
She went on and said that “the second most important issue is one related to supporting the family and senior environment in the community. I’d like to see a new senior center and want to help schools by adequately funding sheriff and fire resources.”
Gutzeit also thinks that Santa Clarita has great trails and open spaces and wants to continue developing those resources, as well as linking to the Los Angeles County trail network.
When asked about the City’s friendliness to businesses and residents, and if it was balanced, she said, “Both could be improved.”
One significant issue that has been hanging over the SCV residents has been the potential treatment costs related to chloride levels.
“The City shouldn’t have the lowest chloride limits in all of Southern California except those related to one small creek,” said Gutzeit. “We need people who understand that to represent the City and will seek to increase the current chloride disposal levels.”
She went on to say that if the City is required to treat the water, it should be used to recharge our own aquifers.
Water rates in the SCV have increased significantly over the past five years.
When asked what the City could do to deal with that, Maria said, “Encourage, but not mandate, landscaping appropriate for Southern California.”
She would also like to encourage green building. The candidate explained that Newhall County Water District went from one of the highest cost retailers in the SCV to one of the lower by being more efficient, managing resources better and better planning.
One of the biggest challenges Gutzeit faced occurred when she first ran for the Water District, which was facing supply concerns and the board was evaluating a moratorium on development. She indicated the District hired an independent consultant to evaluate the supply, who said the supply needed to be managed carefully, but that there was not a shortage. Gutzeit said she faced threats related to not endorsing a moratorium.
“I wanted to do what was right and people threatening me was not going to color my decisions,” said Gutzeit.
After she took that position, things got easier, said the candidate.
In terms of her viewpoints versus those of incumbent candidates, Gutzeit said she would provide a “fresh look,” and that she “had an extensive business background and engineering education that would help the City move to the next level.”
Gutzeit added that she had experience with a multitude of agencies and was willing to work with surrounding communities.
When asked about her positions regarding the joint City/County General Plan “One Valley One Vision,” Gutzeit indicated that she was not active regarding that plan, but felt that it would be “a mistake to put all our eggs in new residential development. The Whitaker Bermite property should be all jobs. We need to become the destination businesses and their people want to go to,” she said.
Gutzeit also supports independent businesses who want to expand and feels that the City was unrealistic and inflexible from a policy perspective, about the challenges facing small and midsize businesses.
From a planning standpoint, Gutzeit was “inclined to support more urban densities with the appropriate common and open areas to allow residents to enjoy the outdoors,” she said.
She also felt that Santa Clarita City and L.A. County needed to do a better job monitoring developments and developer commitments.
When asked about City of Santa Clarita’s strong suits, Gutzeit mentioned the Parks and Recreation department, trails and creating open space.
In terms of the opposite end of things, Gutzeit said, “The City needs to improve jobs and good government, business friendliness, transparency and create a level playing field.”
Gutzeit summarized her goals for City Council. “We need to create a state of the art city that supports state of the art staff and businesses and the families it brings in,” she said. “The Council is there to set policy and not micromanage.”
Maria Gutzeit’s campaign can be reached at www.facebook.com/MariaGutzeitSCV, or by calling 661-670-0332, or by visiting www.electmaria.com, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.