By Katherine Geyer
From introducing a bill for bike lane funding to cracking down on police animal brutality, Assemblyman Cameron Smyth’s first 100 days in Sacramento have been both productive and unique.
“My legislative package is eclectic,” he said. “I wanted to take this first year to really learn the process. Coming in, I had a pretty solid base of understanding, but it’s still different when you’re in it.”
This former Santa Clarita mayor was the first assemblyman from Santa Clarita to represent the 38th district, which includes Santa Clarita, Simi Valley, Glendale and parts of the city of Los Angeles. Smyth replaced Assemblyman Keith Richman, a Republican from the San Fernando Valley who had reached his term limits.
Smyth said the big issues he has been focusing on are overcrowding in the prison system, health care and education. He said he’s also working on a bill with the governor regarding parks and open space.
He serves as the vice chair on the Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee, which oversees public health and environmental issues. He also serves on the Local Government Committee, as well as the Utilities and Commerce Committee.
He said his biggest accomplishment as a freshman assemblyman, other than not getting stuck with the smallest office in the Capitol, has been his success in establishing credibility with his fellow members and “being able to work with them and work on several bills with both Republican and Democratic authors.”
Smyth is in Sacramento Mondays through Thursdays and divides his time between the assembly floor and committee hearings, interspersed with meet-and-greets with other politicians, lobbyists and constituents.
“I want Santa Clarita residents to see that even though I am in Sacramento four days a week, I am still very much in touch with what’s going on in our community,” he said.
Smyth said he absolutely has plans to run for re-election in two years but that the hardest part of his job is being so far from his family.
“My worst day was when both of my children were pretty sick, and they were asking for me and I wasn’t there for them,” said the 35-year-old father of two boys, Gavin, 3, and Rowan, 1. “My wife had to handle it on her own, and they didn’t understand why I wasn’t there.”
He said that once a month, his family travels to Sacramento and spends a week with him.
“I’m used to coming home to a pretty rowdy house with my kids, and now I come home to an apartment,” he said.
He said the most surprising thing about being in Sacramento has been his interaction with the other politicians.
“It’s much less partisan than people think,” he said. “You know that you’re not going to agree with everybody on everything, and you’re going to have, at times, very heated debates.”
Smyth has crossed party lines to become friends with the other freshmen who are also new to the challenges of the first year in Sacramento.
“Some of my closest friends up here are Democrats,” he said.
Smyth grew up in Newhall and graduated from Hart High School. He went on to the University of California, Davis, and got his bachelor’s degree in rhetoric and communication.
Not long after graduation, he served as Assemblyman William “Pete” Knight’s campaign manager when Knight ran for the state Senate. When Knight was elected as a senator, Knight kept Smyth on as his chief of staff.
Smyth was elected to the Santa Clarita City Council in 2000 and served as mayor in 2003 and 2005.