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With the elections a few weeks away, I’ve become shell-shocked by all of the political advertising online, on television and in the mail. The daily onslaught of negative advertisements and the relentless robo calls can’t end soon enough. Yet, I recently subjected myself to the State of the City luncheon—that annual gathering of the local gentry for glad-handing and backslapping.

I get that celebrating the City or the County once a year is appropriate to showcase accomplishments. The State of the City luncheon was just that—it showed years’ worth of accumulated achievements in the course of more than a two hour event. The videos shown, with a dose of self-adulation, were essentially a look back in the review mirror more than making a bold statement about the future and where the City will be in ten, twenty or fifty years.

The entire presentation rang hollow for the lack of any real vision. By vision I mean, the forward looking grand plan for the City and the entire Santa Clarita Valley. There was none. And that is my point. I’m not talking about the One Valley One Vision plan that is irrelevant and outdated, I’m talking about a real vision for the future. The same old candidates that are seeking re-election represent the current status Quo. There is not one visionary among them who could articulate a big idea for the City.

A reach idea that seems at first near impossible to achieve but is an attainable goal. You know, like President Kennedy saying in the early 1960s that the U.S. will land a man on the moon by the end of the decade. At first it seemed far-fetched but of course we did it as a nation. In contemporary times, the vision to build the hyper-loop or colonize Mars—all will eventually be achieved. Those are grand visions. Now, take that down slightly and look at SCV and what is the big idea for the future?

Well, you will not get it from the current City council. I’m not being mean or nasty when I say that—I’m being honest. What I watched at the State of the City luncheon was Council members touting basic, no-brainer ideas and achievements that any city does; i.e. road maintenance, parks, green space, police & fire protection, arts programs, libraries, small business incubators and trolley buses. They used buzz words—Silicon Suburb and Start-up Grind—to sound hip. The old saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none” applies here.

There is no visionary, no imaginative person who could spark innovative ideas because the current City Council has been imbedded not just for years, but for decades. It is not representative of the changing demographics of our valley. There is something to be said about injecting youth and vitality into an antiquated city government. At the very least, you will get more current views and more relevant questioning. You will get forward thinking individuals rather than those living in the past or trying to hold onto a bygone era. Freshening up the City Council will allow for it to focus on one or two big ideas above and beyond the standard city business. Transformative ideas. If the City truly wants to be “Silicon Suburb” then what must be accomplished in the coming years to solidify that moniker.

I am not disparaging the history or legacy of our valley but rather saying we should celebrate the past, document it and put it on display but we should not live in the past. I found it embarrassing to see one City Council incumbent stuffing fistfuls of large cookies into her purse at a function the night before the State of the City luncheon. Is that why they are on the council—to get into every event in town for free and then pilfer the buffet table for their own gain? The City should be embarrassed by such behavior. That is not conduct of a forward looking city and it diminishes the City leadership’s image by displaying a level of small-mindedness. That is only further galvanized by the self-absorbed nature of the overall presentation. It was more about ego-stroking and less about setting the stage for a vibrant future with big goals.  

Those casting ballots for the Santa Clarita City Council election should really look at the full slate of candidates and ask themselves who will represent them best. Will someone, like Jason Gibbs, be more representative of the local demographics? Could he bring fresh ideas to the table and be able to help shape a bold vision for the City? I think so. Santa Clarita deserves a more dynamic forward looking City Council. This election is an opportunity to either keep looking in the rearview mirror, the status quo, or to be forward thinking and look to the future. It’s up to the voters.

Dave Bossert—Commentary

Dave Bossert is a community volunteer who serves on a number of boards and councils. His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of The SCV Beacon.