By Adam Clark
More than 75 people of all ages and backgrounds gathered Saturday at the Republican Headquarters in Newhall with one thing in common: They all support Santa Clarita Mayor Cameron Smyth’s bid for the Republican nomination of the 38th Assembly district.
Smyth officially kicked off his campaign Saturday morning in Simi Valley and continued the rally in Newhall on Saturday afternoon. Smyth said the campaign will continue to encompass the other areas of the 38th district.
“Obviously we’re established here in Santa Clarita,” he said, “but not as much in other parts of the district. We just (want) to get my name out there a little bit more … and let people know what I stand for.”
City Council members, school teachers, local residents, students, state Sen. George Runner and his wife, Assemblywoman Sharon Runner, were among those in attendance at the kickoff.
“Sharon and I have known Cameron for a number of years,” Runner, R-Lancaster, said. “It’s been wonderful to see him prepare himself to represent Santa Clarita in Sacramento … (and) let me tell you, we need people like (him).”
Other attendees seemed to feel the same.
Saugus resident Steve Petzold said he thought Smyth would be a good representative for the Santa Clarita Valley.
“He’s an experienced council member and mayor. He has deep roots in the community (and) I think he would represent us well,” Petzold said.
Smyth said his own reasons for running are to make changes in the legislature that will affect all Californians for the better.
“The first question I get is ‘;Why do you want to run for office?'” Smyth said. “(Because) I believe in the opportunities this country affords you. If you don’t like the way thing are going and you want to make a change, don’t just sit back and complain about it. You have the ability, and to some degree, I feel you have the obligation to actually try to make a difference.”
Smyth’s speech highlighted some of the differences he plans to make if elected, namely reforms in transportation, education, jobs and border control.
In regards to transportation, Smyth decried the delays and inaction regarding expansion of Interstate 405. “That inaction has now led to the jeopardizing of $130 million in federal funds to construct improvements along the 405 freeway.”
Smyth said traffic is not a Republican or Democratic issue. “We all hate it, we’re all stuck in it, and yet because of fighting among the democratic caucus, we now may lose $130 million to improve the 405.”
Education was another big issue for Smyth, as he was a product of the public school system “from kindergarten all the way through college,” he said.
Smyth said he is excited by how well Santa Clarita Valley schools are doing, but other school districts are not doing as well and need help.
“Education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty that a lot of these kids are facing,” he said. “As a student of the public education system … I assure you all that all of our school and all of our teachers will get the resources they need.”
Regarding employment, Smyth said far too many companies are leaving California because of laws that make it too expensive for them to employ Californians. “We should be putting people to work, not taking them out of work,” he said.
Border control was another issue about which Smyth spoke at length. He said it is not a work or education issue, but a safety issue.
“What did the legislature do about any of these issues around the border (such as human trafficking)?” asked Smyth. “They voted to give illegal immigrants driver’s liscences.”
Smyth said it is not about denying people education or work, rather “it’s about having common sense and representing the needs of the people who are citizens of this country.”
In the end, Smyth said he hoped to win the Republican nomination in June 2006, and the election the following November because “someone has to fight the fight. Someone has to stand up.”
“George,” Smyth said to Sen. Runner, “let everyone know, next November, help is on the way.”