Jason Gibbs decided that if he truly wants to serve the people of Santa Clarita, he should get to know them better.
So, he did. He joined the Valley Industry Association (VIA), where he’s currently vice chair of advocacy. He got involved with the William S. Hart Union High School District, joining its WiSH Foundation and its advisory committee. He also serves on the Boys and Girls Club advisory committee, the county’s Safe Clean Water Program Watershed Area Steering Committees and the Measure EE bond oversight committee.
People certainly are noticing all Gibbs, 38, has done. He recently was named a 40 Under Forty honoree by Santa Clarita Magazine and the local chapter of the Junior Chamber International.
What he has learned is this: “There are a lot of incredible people who have dedicated themselves to making Santa Clarita a better place,” he said. “These people are out there every day trying to make the city great.”
Gibbs wants to do that, too, only he wants to do it in the political arena. That’s why he already has submitted paperwork to run for city council.
“Getting to know people is important so they know who (you) are,” he said. “People want people in City Hall they know, so they know they’re being represented by someone who’s been there with them.”
This is Gibbs’ second try. Two years ago, he finished ninth out of 15 candidates with 10,008 votes (5.57 percent). But this time could be different. Councilmember Bob Kellar is retiring, and he and fellow Councilmember Laurene Weste have endorsed Gibbs to take over; last time, voters returned Weste and two other incumbents to their seats.
“Jason is a very, very bright, energetic person, and there is nothing that would make me happier than to see him take over my office,” Kellar said. “He’s a tremendous asset to Santa Clarita.”
Additionally, Gibbs has worked to differentiate himself from other candidates; last time, he ran on a platform of basically continuing what the council had done, which made it hard for him to step out from the incumbents’ shadows.
While he still believes the city has been moving in the right direction, he is pushing harder for his most unique point: adding a city Public Safety Commission.
“I still think (it’s) viable,” he declared.
In Gibbs’ mind, it would be organized similar to the existing planning, arts and parks and recreation commissions. While he hasn’t finalized such details as how many members it would comprise or whether a council member would sit on it, he said he would like to see police, fire and emergency service personnel on it.
Many of his platform points return from two years ago, if slightly modified:
He still wants to pay down the debt incurred from the employee retirement program, CalPERS, but he now calls for a maximum of 10-percent debt. Two years ago, he didn’t specify the debt load.
He still wants to maintain good relationships with the school boards but now says safety on the school grounds is the school boards’ responsibilities. Two years ago, he didn’t assign responsibilities to any group.
He acknowledges the city thinks the Lyons-Dockweiler extension at 13th Street is most viable but now says he wants to see what city engineers come up with because he’s concerned about how much traffic could increase at that intersection. Previously, he went with the city’s opinion unquestioned.
He was confident the roads through Whittaker-Bermite were coming sooner rather than later but now isn’t as sure. “It’s not clean. We don’t have the go-ahead,” he said. But unlike last time, he specified what roads he wants built through there: Via Princessa, Santa Clarita Parkway and Magic Mountain Parkway.
He also wants a large industrial area built that will offer many jobs and keep people from having to commute. “The 5-14 interchange is not getting any better,” he said. “I think there’s a desire to not travel down to the San Fernando Valley.”
Maybe that industrial center ends up in Whittaker-Bermite, or maybe a high-quality development, such as Porta Bella, brings the roads with it. Regardless, Gibbs said, there is a need for housing to be a part of any development plan.
“Santa Clarita has not had a shortage of development the last 20 years,” he said, “housing is needed.”
And Gibbs said housing of all sorts is needed: condos, start-ups, high-end and high-density – any type that would help homeowners not spend 95 percent of their paychecks on housing.
He said that after the 2018 election, he took a vacation and decided to remain involved in the community. Now, he seeks to involve himself his way.
“They respect someone who wants to learn and get involved and give back along the way,” he said.