City council candidates discuss housing, traffic at Canyon Country forumMai Nguyen Do September 22, 2018 0 COMMENTS
The Canyon Country Advisory Committee hosted a forum for city council candidates on Wednesday Sept. 19.
Candidates TimBen Boydston, Brett Haddock, Logan Smith, Diane Trautman and Sankalp Varma were the first candidates to participate in the CCAC’s city council candidate forum series. Since a total of fifteen candidates qualified to appear on the November ballot, the CCAC will host two more forums before the election.
Instead of answering predetermined questions, candidates were given three minutes each to introduce themselves. They then took questions from the audience.
Discussion about homelessness and housing dominated the evening. Candidates agreed that homelessness is a pressing issue in Santa Clarita.
Haddock, Smith and Trautman are proponents of affordable housing to mitigate both the housing and homelessness issue.
“We need to address this problem at the root because we can give folks at Bridge to Home a hot shower and new shoes, but at the end of the day, they’re still going to go back and sleep under a bridge,” Smith, a nonprofit organizer, said. “On day one, I would call for a vote to repeal the recent Title 14 amendments that functionally criminalized homelessness.”
Currently, the Bridge to Home shelter only operates regularly during the winter. “We need to build a year-round homeless shelter because that is a safety issue and a human issue,” Boydston said.
Boydston — who was appointed to the city council to serve from 2007 to 2008 and was elected to the city council in 2012 for a full four-year term — touted his experience in city hall as a key part of his campaign. “Every major improvement that I ran on six years ago for city council is being built, like the sheriff’s station, the Canyon Country community center and the senior center,” Boydston said. “I get things done.”
The candidates also discussed traffic and transportation solutions in response to questions and complaints from audience members about increased traffic problems around town.
Haddock and Smith both support building dense housing near public transportation to increase use of public transportation services and decrease reliance on cars. Boydston supports conducting studies of traffic to effectively analyze traffic problems.
As an Uber driver, Varma often deals with traffic problems firsthand. To combat increasing congestion, Varma supports the construction of a monorail on dried riverbeds.
“We really have to do way more to decrease traffic fatalities,” former Santa Clarita City planning commissioner Trautman said, referencing the frequent deaths on Bouquet Canyon Road. Most recently, Andrew Garrett Straughan was the victim of a fatal collision in July, KHTS reported.
Haddock said that, as someone who grew up in Santa Clarita, he is concerned for the city’s future. “I see a city council that has gotten complacent,” Haddock said.
Other candidates agreed about the current state of the city and its leadership at city hall.
“It’s time for new leadership,” Trautman said. “Our current council has failed to make progress on too many significant issues.”
Correction: A previous version of this article did not mention the upcoming forums in the series, implying that other candidates did not choose to attend.
Mai Nguyen Do is a Vietnamese American poet and researcher. She is a lifelong Santa Clarita resident and a College of the Canyons graduate. She is also the author of Ghosts Still Walking (2016) and Battlefield Blooming (2019). Find her on Twitter @DoNguyenMai.