Leon Worden

Curious about homeless, City Council hopefuls

Leon Worden · November 19, 1997

Reporter Nicole Campbell's story in Saturday's Signal piqued my curiosity. It seems that some folks in Canyon Country don't like the local high school district's plan to establish a day treatment facility at the old Bowman campus, adjacent to Canyon High, for the 40 or so students whose special emotional needs preclude their participation in "regular" classes.

"Why should Canyon Country always get stuck with the bad stuff?" is the common cry. Or as Councilwoman Jan Heidt, a Sand Canyon resident, told this paper, "As long as we do these types of things, people will continue to think negatively about the area."

Here's what I want to know. Where's the outcry from Canyon Country over the new homeless shelter? Church officials are eyeing the old Merle Norman building behind Home Depot in Canyon Country. The proposal comes up for final City Council approval next Tuesday night.

Under the current plan, the shelter would offer only minimal services -- no job training or anything -- and kick the homeless out onto the streets of Canyon Country at 6 a.m. every day. What's up with that?

* * *

I know, I know. It's irritating when stores put out Christmas stuff before Thanksgiving, let alone before Halloween. It's probably annoying to hear about next April's City Council election already, but I can't help it.

Now that the November school and water board elections are over, several would-be Council candidates are trying to get organized for April's big event.

"Big Event" might be an overstatement, since only one in six eligible voters will go to the polls. But it's an important one, as Council elections go. Three seats are up for grabs, two of which have been occupied by the same people throughout the entire 10-year history of the city. Those seats might open up for the first time.

But that's not a sure thing. Longtime Council members Jo Anne Darcy and Carl Boyer haven't formally disclosed their intentions, and neither has Mayor Clyde Smyth, whose term also expires. The general conjecture is that Boyer and Smyth probably won't run again, while Darcy might. For the record I personally haven't heard anything conclusive.

Now is when everybody needs to know. Neither side of the political aisle can put together a competent campaign strategy until they know who's in and who's out.

Council elections are technically nonpartisan, but in reality, party politics plays a role. The major candidates tend to get their support from ideological sympathizers and run more or less as a bloc.

It's only rumor at this stage, but the top contenders on the Republican side seem to be Frank Ferry, a Valencia High School teacher; Cameron Smyth, aide to Senator Pete Knight; and Laurene Weste, city parks commissioner. Ferry and Weste both ran and lost in 1996, while Smyth -- the mayor's son and the only one who has announced -- is a newcomer.

For the Democrats, most talked-about are Lynne Plambeck, former Newhall County Water Board member; Tiffanie Scott, Newhall Redevelopment Committee member; and Henry Schultz, city parks commissioner.

Both sides appear to have three in the wings, just in case all three incumbents don't run. It will make for an interesting election -- but only if both sides can raise enough money to get their messages out. That can't happen until everyone knows what's going on. Please, guys.

* * *

Speaking of Plambeck and campaign money, her recent post-election commentary on the Newhall County Water Board race smacks of sour grapes. She criticizes the winners for raising so much money from small contributors who donated less than $100 each.

Pardon me, but doesn't that demonstrate that there were a heck of a lot of "average voters" around town who wanted the incumbents replaced?

Plambeck chides the winners for respecting the anonymity of their under-$100 donors, as allowed by law -- conveniently forgetting that she and her running mates didn't disclose the identity of many of their donors, either. Moreover, wasn't it Plambeck and Co. who unconscionably spent taxpayer and rate payer money to get their thinly-veiled campaign messages out in the form of publicly-funded "newsletters?"

Plambeck says, "The voters seemed not to care about the motives or integrity of the candidates." Yes, Lynne, they did. Very much.

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Leon Worden is a Santa Clarita resident. His commentary appears on Wednesdays.

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