Editorial from The Signal: The Newspaper’s Opinion
You’d have to look back rather far in history to find a member of the state Legislature who was actually “from” the Santa Clarita Valley.
There was Don Ygnacio del Valle, the Mexican-turned-American owner of what became the Newhall Ranch, shortly after California entered the Union and became a state in 1850. And there was Ygnacio’s son, Reginaldo, who presided over the state Senate in the 1880s at the tender age of 28.
That’s about it. We had a couple members of the county board of supervisors about a century ago, and there was Charles Felton, an investor in the “west side” oil town of Mentryville in the 1880s, who served in the United States Senate.
After that, we ran fairly dry.
That’s why the redistricting of the 1990s was such a treat. For the first time since – well, ever – the Santa Clarita Valley wasn’t split six ways from Sunday into a bunch of different Assembly, Senate and congressional districts. Now, the majority of the Santa Clarita Valley was kept together and combined with the Antelope Valley into single Assembly, Senate and congressional districts.
For the first time in eons, the Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys could collectively decide who should represent them in Sacramento and Washington.
Since the Antelope Valley outnumbers Santa Clarita by population, the Antelope Valley candidate usually had the upper hand. In one instance, however, the Antelope Valley candidate was an interloper from Tehachapi – a fact that wasn’t lost on AV voters and ultimately opened the door for Santa Clarita to send its first “home-grown” representative to Congress in the form of Buck McKeon.
Even when the seats went to the AV candidates, Santa Clarita didn’t suffer. Assemblyman (later Senator) Pete Knight and his successor, George Runner, served our valley well. They carried legislation. They attended local events. They knew the issues of the Santa Clarita Valley and carried them to Sacramento.
Prior to the redistricting of the 1990s, we had representatives who probably didn’t know the SCV was part of their district.
Fortunately, fears of getting split up again in this decade’s redistricting didn’t materialize. In fact, the situation improved on the Assembly side. The Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys were separated. We kept Keith Richman, who was first elected to the Assembly in 2000 in the “old” 38th district. Today, the 38th Assembly district is centered around the Santa Clarita Valley (with “legs” that stretch into the northern San Fernando and Simi valleys).
Richman has served us – and the rest of the state – effectively for the past six years. But he’s from the “other valley” down below. Now that term limits are driving him out of office – and hopefully up to higher office – the 38th Assembly district is wide open for Santa Clarita to elect “its own” state legislator for the first time in more than 100 years.
That person is Cameron Smyth.
He’s a “Santa Clarita kid” through and through. (At 34, he’s still a kid in our book – although he’s got several years on Reginaldo del Valle.) He hails from a distinguished Santa Clarita family, following his father, former Hart District Superintendent Clyde Smyth, to the City Council.
Cameron played volleyball at Hart High and went to the University of California, Davis, where he graduated with a degree in rhetoric. (That should come in handy in Sacramento.) He went to work for Pete Knight and became his chief deputy, a job that gave him some hands-on experience with local issues.
Soon after his election to the Santa Clarita City Council in 2000, Cameron went to work as a spokesman for Shell Oil, which gave him a taste of what it’s like to be on the other side of the dais. By day he’d testify on Shell’s behalf in places such as Bakersfield City Hall; by night he’d hear the testimony of others from his seat at the Santa Clarita City Council table.
Along the way he made some good decisions for the citizens of Santa Clarita, chief among them his critical vote to put the city’s trash contracts to a competitive bid. The move saved local residents and businesses a combined $30 million over the life of the contracts, which had been scheduled to be renewed before The Signal exposed the gross overpricing.
Barring some Katrina-sized phenomenon, Cameron Smyth will be our next member of the state Assembly. He’s the front-running Republican candidate in the June 6 primary and the only GOP candidate from the Assembly districts’ population center – Santa Clarita. And as the eventual Republican nominee in a “safe” GOP district, he’ll win the general election Nov. 7.
Santa Clarita is fortunate to be able to send someone to Sacramento who is as intimately familiar with local issues as Cameron Smyth. We urge Republican voters to “just say yes” to Cameron Smyth on June 6.