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Council Split on Mayoral Voting

| News | January 5, 2018

Then he added, “I’m not going to go out and propose it.”

The next closest councilmember to share Miranda’s view was Cameron Smyth, who said he was “agnostic” about it, but was willing to have a discussion about it.

Mayor Laurene Weste and Councilmember Bob Kellar were much more leery.

“Changing may bring something we cannot predict, and it may or may not work,” Weste said. “There’s always unintended consequences. Santa Clarita is one of the best cities, and I’m proud to live here. I don’t need more power. I have my one vote.”

Weste spent much of the 14-minute phone conversation extolling what she saw as the city’s virtues: the various awards the city has won, it being called the safest city, 85 miles of trails and 34 parks. She also seemed to want to equate directly electing a mayor with district voting, even though they are two separate issues – and neither Ojai nor Goleta has district voting.

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Santa Clarita has won awards for planning, public safety, environmental and education projects. It also was named the third safest city in 2014 by Parenting.com and the 37th safest city in 2013 by SafeWise, a website that focuses on home and community safety.

“We don’t have the personal conflicts that seem to plague other cities,” Weste said. “Once you change your form of government, you don’t know what you’re going to get.”

Kellar estimated that it might be fun to directly elect the next mayor, and that he thinks between 75 and 90 percent of the time, things would run smoothly.

“But if a mistake is made by the voters, it is a serious problem for your city,” he warned.

Seven or eight years ago, Kellar contacted city managers and chambers of commerce to inquire about making the change. He said they told him the same thing: “It can be great, but Lord help you if you have a problem.”

The solution, he said, is to be aware of what your city leaders and candidates are doing and standing for, so you can vote intelligently.

It appears that it would be up to the voters to make this happen. If the council doesn’t place the matter on the ballot, the voters can bring the matter via initiative. They would need signatures of 10 percent of the registered voters to place the question on a future ballot.

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About Lee Barnathan

Lee Barnathan has been a writer and editor since 1990. His articles have been published in newspapers, magazines and online. His new book "If You Experience Death, Please Call and Other Fatal Mistakes We Make With Language," a humorous look at the ways people misuse English, is available on Amazon or at his website, www.leebarnathan.com. He is hired by people all over the country to help them refine the message or story they wish to share with their target audience or demographic.

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