As the new year begins today, I can’t help but feel optimistic about the coming months ahead. The past year was terrific, for the most part, as I reflected on it over the weekend. Looking forward, there are so many new projects starting and my calendar is already brimming with travel to accommodate some of them. But, I also took a moment to think about the local scene here in the Santa Clarita Valley.

2018 has the potential to be a pivotal time for our valley and the City of Santa Clarita. Three of the five city council seats will be up for election and there have been rumblings about who is running. This year’s city council election has the opportunity to make significant and some believe needed changes to the city leadership. It is a chance to elect a diverse slate of individuals and possibly inject some youth into the city council.

That doesn’t mean that those who have been on the city council for years haven’t done a good job. There have been many great strides by the perpetual city council members with open space and parks, which has benefited all the residents of the valley. But there are other areas like traffic, tech, and more diverse representation that have stagnated or fallen behind.  

For years, decades, there have been a tight knit political group that has maintained control over the city council even as the makeup of the city and valley has grown and changed. It feels like the right to time to bring in new blood, youthful visionary individuals that can look further down the road at what the city and hence our entire valley can be.

That can only start if the city changes its charter from the current status of a general law city to that of a charter city. The general law status simply means that the city follows the laws set forth by the state government code, which gives it less autonomy than a charter city.

A charter city has the ability “to make and enforce all ordinances and resolutions with respect to municipal affairs (California Constitution Article XI, Section 5(a)). This is commonly referred to as the “home rule” provision. Typical examples of municipal affairs include the manner of conducting local elections and the city’s dealings with its municipal officers and employees.” San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Jose and San Francisco are all good examples of charter cities in the State of California.

Essentially, by changing the structure of the City of Santa Clarita it would make it more equitable for residents (who chose to vote) to have a say in how the city is operated. Roughly ten percent or less of the city population actually votes in municipal elections and certainly the make-up of the city council does not represent the diversity of the city. If the city wants to continue to grow and evolve as well to be more representative of the population within its boundaries now and in the future, it needs to change as well.

But right now, there are signs that some of the same old people will be running; Alan Ferdman, Tim Ben Boydston, and Gloria Mercado-Fortine along with the incumbents. No one new. The same old same. Ferdman has been a constant critic of the city and a perennial loser at the polls. Boyston, a council gadfly, was elected to the city council only to lose a reelection bid. And Gloria Mercado-Fortine was bumped from the Hart School District board. She is known for questionable dealings and influence peddling; the city doesn’t need that kind of ethically challenged candidate, it would only be a distraction.

Where is the next generation of political leaders? That level of forty-somethings that can bring a contemporary viewpoint to the city governance and lead the entire valley. The opportunity and time is ripe for that new blood in this new year.

So, politically, 2018 may prove to be a year of change both locally and nationally. It’s exciting and I am looking forward to seeing how it will all unfold for hopefully for the better.

Dave Bossert- Commentary

Dave Bossert is a community volunteer who serves on several 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.