By Diana Sevanian
Politicians are used to taking some heat, but the burners were cranked up especially high on Saturday night when Mayor Pro-Tem Cameron Smyth got his due at the sixth annual Elks Roast.
Only 32 years old – “tender” by most roasting standards – it was precisely that youth that made Smyth a meaty target for the vituperative, well seasoned speakers.
The roasting assailants included John Hoskinson (Elks roastee, 2002); Don Fleming (roastee, 2001); John Reardon (roastee, 2003); former Mayor George Pederson and City Manager Ken Pulskamp.
Chaired by Mike Fisher, the event was emceed by Mayor Bob Kellar (roastee, 1999) who started off the brutal banquet with some tasty barbs.
“Cameron has a bachelor’s degree in rhetoric and communications,” Kellar said. “I would submit to you all that you can replace those words with a B.S.”
Of young Smyth’s support of the Boys and Girls Club, Kellar said, “Lord knows, he reports in at 3 o’clock like all the rest of them.”
Asked what he most feared, Cameron said, “My father being embarrassed.”
One of the biggest targets of the evening was Smyth’s former “Milk and Cookies with the Mayor” campaign.
“Cameron thought it was so cool that he could get the community to cough up money for unlimited Oreos and get his poster up at every damn bus stop in Santa Clarita,” quipped Don Fleming. “Each time he was in the car and passed one with Clyde he shouted, ‘;Look, Daddy! I’m a big boy now! Can I have a raise in my allowance?'”
John Hoskinson said Smyth – the youngest councilman in city history, as well as one of the youngest mayors in California – was “a little boy.” Hoskinson told a joke about a little boy with a puppy, its eyes still closed.
One day Hillary Clinton sees them and asks the child what kind of dog it is. “It’s a Democrat puppy,” he answers. The following week Bill Clinton sees the same child with the puppy and asks what kind of dog it is. “It’s a Republican puppy,” he replied. “But last week you told my wife it’s a Democrat,” Bill said. “Yes,” said the child, “but since then it has opened its eyes.”
While the predominantly Republican audience roared, everyone in the room seemed to enjoy the partisan pun.
“Cameron had an inferiority complex as a child until he found out he was inferior,” said longtime friend Pederson, Santa Clarita’s mayor in 1994 and campaign manager of Smyth’s first – unsuccessful – bid for City Council in 1998. “He’s a humble man, and why not? He has so much to be humble about.”
Pulskamp assailed Smyth’s vanity with a box full of “props” he claimed to have “borrowed” from Smyth’s City Hall office – including a hefty container of “Super Mega Hair Gel” and numerous mirrors.
The city manager also poked fun at Kellar, saying the new mayor had wanted to do something along the lines of Smyth’s “Milk and Cookies With the Mayor.”
“But I talked him out of it,” Pulskamp said of his dissuading Kellar. “I didn’t think ‘;Scotch and Soda with the Mayor’ was the right idea.”
Banker John Reardon cited Smyth’s political mission statement as “Procrastinate Now.”
“Smyth’s the kind of politician that gets a town moving,” Reardon mused. “He gets elected and I’m out of here.”
Of course, not all the lines were stingers. Bob Hudson, a member of the Samuel Dixon Family Health Center board and chief financial officer of Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, hailed Smyth as a worthy honoree.
“Having Cameron as the roastee was a great choice,” Hudson said. “As a local boy with deep involvement in the community, not to mention the political appeal of his having been the youngest mayor, Cameron made a great target to help the Elks raise money to support SDFHC.”
The yearly roast, held at Elks Lodge No. 2379 in Canyon Country, benefits the SDFHC, which provides medical care to the unserved and underserved of the Santa Clarita Valley.
Once the barrage was over, Smyth got in some of his own licks. A sample:
About Valencia Acura car dealer Don Fleming: “He’s bilingual. He can lie to you in both languages.”
About Reardon: “The bomb squad had to be called (during his speech).”
Even the hosts took a hit. With no projector on hand to show slides of Smyth (many of them “doctored,” slightly off-color and embarrassing), a white tablecloth had to be substituted at the last minute.
“This shows why Canyon Country is considered the Mecca of Santa Clarita. What fine projector service,” Smyth said.
Moreover, Smyth offered much gratitude to the Elks, roasters and attendees.
“This was a great event,” Smyth said, smiling. “There was lots of good humor – and lots of bad humor. But humor is humor. You all helped raise money for the Samuel Dixon Family Health Center, and in spite of all this, I do consider it an honor to have been roasted. The Elks are a great group that raise money for many worthy causes.”