AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE‘Mame,’ ‘Hello, Dolly!’ composer Jerry Herman dies at 88 Weste said residents need to know the system in place is functioning very well, and they would also need to know the potential impacts of what would change if their leader is elected. The discussion about what to do if Smyth exits for Sacramento would be timely when “we know if Cameron is or isn’t moving ahead with a higher position,” she said. Weste said the council could possibly operate with four members, but she recommends exploring what other municipalities have done under similar circumstances to weigh the options. Weste and council members Marsha McLean and Frank Ferry are running for re-election. Council members will vote Tuesday on whether voters should decide in April 2008 whether they prefer a directly elected mayor, and if so, whether the job should span a two-year or four-year term. McLean questions changing a system that has worked since the city was established in 1987. SANTA CLARITA – Beyond next month’s Santa Clarita City Council election – in which three of five members are battling for re-election – two other issues that could shape the panel already are on the table. On Tuesday, council members will consider whether voters should elect the mayor, rather than continue having the council choose its chief. And in November, should Councilman Cameron Smyth win his bid for state Assembly, the council has the choice of appointing his successor or calling a special election. The former would give the new council member the edge when the term expires in April 2008; the latter would cost taxpayers. “Something that entirely changes the political structure – the community’s representation – should be looked at by the community before the council makes any decisions,” Mayor Laurene Weste said. “For almost 20 years the city has thrived on a general law form of city (government),” she said. “I would hate to see another layer of politics thrown into the mix.” Her involvement in the League of California Cities, a statewide advocacy group, makes her appreciate the status quo in Santa Clarita. “I speak to council members and mayors where there are elected mayors, and the council members are always vying for position, there is always dissension. I don’t want to bring that here to Santa Clarita,” she said. McLean said filling Smyth’s seat would warrant much discussion, probably after the June primary when his status could be more clear. “There are so many questions, it’s never happened here before in this way that I can recall, she said. “If we do not have special election (because it is so) expensive, if we did decide we would choose someone I would want to make it a 5-0 vote.” She believes the council members would be able to reach consensus on a replacement because of the large pool of qualified candidates. McLean said appointing the person who comes in fourth in the City Council election in April would not be the automatic choice. Councilman Bob Kellar favors electing the mayor, with a few caveats. “My interpretation of an elected mayor is a person that would be available to citizens for the most part for (at least) a 40-hour workweek at City Hall and would carry out responsibilities of an elected mayor – not for the purpose of name only.” Some say Councilman Frank Ferry, who champions the elected mayor position, would be in the best position to nab the job because he has the biggest war chest. Ferry has said residents have the right to choose who represents them. The council has vetoed three efforts in the past decade – one floated by Ferry – to put the issue before voters. Bruce McFarland, president of Democratic Alliance for Action – a Santa Clarita Democrat club – has heard rumblings Ferry would like to see Ed Colley appointed to Smyth’s seat if it opens up. Colley, who has worked on Ferry’s campaigns and is a personal friend, serves on the Castaic Lake Water Agency board. Ferry said he favors electing the replacement to avoid any hint of a conflict. “I’d rather have a special election, place names on the ballot of who wants to run, and elect a mayor,” he said. “No matter who we put on there we’re going to get accusations about who’s there and who’s not there.” Since Santa Clarita was incorporated in 1987, the mayor’s job has generally rotated among the council members each year, except when politics stalled former Councilwoman Jill Klajic and current Councilwoman Marsha McLean’s turns. Votes of three council members are needed to select a mayor. Though Kellar is leaning toward an appointment if Smyth moves up to avoid the approximately $175,000 price tag of a special election, he says, he acknowledges it would come at its own price. “I also recognize it can be a politically volatile circumstance to make an appointment so I will be looking at this with a great deal of caution and concern,” he said. Some question whether Kellar would angle for the appointment of Mark Hershey, a challenger he endorses in the upcoming council race. Kellar says he would go along if the majority of council members wanted to appoint Hershey, but says he is not maneuvering for it. The ideal situation would be if a former council member would serve out Smyth’s term and walk away, Kellar said. “That would be the most neutral course of action we could take,” he said. “Absent that, I am fearful whoever we appoint it will be looked upon as a good ol’ boy appointment by the existing council.” He might end up favoring a special election as “possibly the most fair and appropriate course of action.” Smyth looks forward to discussing the elected mayor issue Tuesday and would not tip his hand in advance. “I’ve seen both sides and there are benefits to both sides. I want to make sure the structure of the city government does not change whether we have an elected mayor or not,” he said. On the matter of replacing him should that be necessary, Smyth was mute. “That’s a decision that’s up to the council to decide what’s best for the city,” he said. The primary for the state Assembly race will be held June 6. Eleven candidates are vying for three open City Council seats. The election will be held April 11. Judy O’Rourke, (661) 257-5255 firstname.lastname@example.org 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!