Under his leadership, the city of Santa Clarita finalized its new trash contracts, opened a $9 million Aquatic Center, and kept a balanced budget while the state faced a $38 billion deficit.
But outgoing Mayor Cameron Smyth may best be remembered for his Milk and Cookies.
“I really wanted to make the residents feel local government was more accessible,” Smyth said. “I think that was accomplished by Milk and Cookies.”
The town hall meetings, dubbed Milk and Cookies with the Mayor, were at the heart of Smyth’s term as mayor. The meetings reached out to members of the city’s four communities, as well as its teenagers and senior citizens, in a series of informal and interactive gatherings throughout the year.
“Residents are more aware (of local government) than they were 12 months ago,” Smyth said.
After his term comes to an end Tuesday, Smyth said he is looking forward to reclaiming about 20 extra hours each week.
“It’s about 30 percent more work as mayor than as a council member. I’m looking forward to spending that extra time with Gavin,” Smyth said.
Smyth’s wife Lena gave birth to their first son, Gavin McLean Smyth, in November.
“Having a baby has given me some real perspective,” he said. “For the past 32 years, my life has been about me. Now it’s about him. It makes losing a vote at the City Council seem insignificant.”
The addition of a baby during his term didn’t change his role as mayor, as much as being the mayor changed the experience of having a baby, Smyth said.
“I think it was a little more difficult on Lena because we weren’t able to do as much together” preparing for Gavin’s arrival, Smyth said. “And the last thing you want to hear when Lena’s in labor is, “Hey, aren’t you the mayor?”
The most memorable moment of the last year is a toss-up, Smyth said. What stands out in his mind was a rally for the troops after the beginning of the war in Iraq, and when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made a campaign stop in Santa Clarita.
“That was one of the most intense aspects,” Smyth said. “To be able to build a relationship with the governor, who also happens to be Arnold Schwarzenegger.”
Among the city’s most important accomplishments over the last year, Smyth said, was getting better rates and service through renegotiating Santa Clarita’s trash contracts.
“Because I made the motion to have the split contracts, I’m very happy how it worked out,” he said.
City officials had initially recommended Burrtec Waste Industries to receive both the residential and commercial contracts, but renegotiated the contracts after Smyth”s proposal. The City Council voted last month to award the commercial contract to Burrtec, and the residential contract to incumbent hauler Blue Barrel Disposal.
The new contracts will reduce residents’ monthly trash bill from $22.13 to $18.64 in January, and again to $16.25 when the contract takes effect in April 2006.
“We really got the best deal. Every single bidder came in below $22.13,” Smyth said.
Smyth said another feat was being able to fight population projections that called for an additional 800,000 people in the Santa Clarita Valley over the next 25 years.
The Southern California Association of Governments estimated a population boom for North Los Angeles County ? adding between 1.1 million and 1.7 million people to the area.
“We’ve been able to move them off that scenario,” Smyth said.
Smyth, who is up for re-election to the City Council in 2004, also envisions eventually running for state office.
“But I’m not even going to think about it until after re-election,” Smyth said. “If the people of Santa Clarita don’t send me back to the City Council, I don’t have a chance running for the state.”