PRIORITIES

Let's Get to Work

Traffic and Public Transportation

The City of Santa Clarita has been continuously growing year after year with more planned developments close by.   Many citizens, candidates, and periodicals complain each year about traffic and how it is getting out of hand. Traffic will only continue to get worse while affecting public health, citizen satisfaction, property values, and public safety.  

 

Santa Clarita must look for traditional and nontraditional ways to solve this traffic crisis.  It is imperative that we start a traffic study to determine the root cause, commuter habits, and citizen satisfaction criteria.  While the surface observations help to identify the problem, simply addressing the symptoms will not lead to a long term resolution. When the city is armed with scientific data, it can then propose capital improvements to increase current services/departments (city bus service) and address this problem.

 

We should address development within the city’s area of influence to curtail suburban sprawl as it will affect the traffic and quality of life of everyone living here.  Light rail and a reassessment of zoning should be considered to promote development upward to better take advantage of public transportation options. Ultimately, we need more incentives to use public transportation to will lower the number of cars on the road.

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Economic Development (Jobs)

I support good paying jobs and businesses that provide those jobs. Fiscal responsibility is a must, and this must be balanced with the idea that local spending promotes the local economy. If elected, I will propose an ordinance that prioritizes local labor and materials as much as reasonably possible.  We should partner with labor unions to promote good paying jobs and the excellent training opportunities unions provide. Currently, the minimum wage in Santa Clarita is below the county level, which means our residents have greater incentives to commute. We should raise the minimum wage to put Santa Clarita on an even playing field of Los Angeles County and bring more jobs back into the city.

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Homelessness

Santa Clarita has experienced an increase in the homeless population.  This issue is regularly brought to attention at City Council meetings and ordinances have recently been changed to criminalize homeless behavior.  This change will only make matters worse by stressing sheriff services and giving a criminal record to those most vulnerable.

 

We must address this problem through cooperation between many of the city’s stakeholders.  Santa Clarita should reach out to local charities, state grants, and LA County programs.  The city should include in this outreach built-in programs and promotions in each of the community centers to gather the community around the homeless epidemic and humanize this circumstance.  City council should be progressive in interfacing through public safety entities with the homeless population. If elected, this will be a major part of my priorities while serving the community.

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Transparent Government

The city of Santa Clarita has an issue with open and transparent contracts and the negotiation process. Finding a summary for active, past, and proposed city contracts and spending is cumbersome if not impossible.  It's strange that the local publications have more information and have obtained information that the city will not freely offer up or post on the Santa Clarita website. 

 

The city’s website needs a publication weblink that has non-confidential contracts, lobbying efforts data, and minutes of closed meetings held with council.  Council members should be required to maintain a record of any lobbyist contact and give a summary of conversations had between lobbyists and council members. Also, to promote more interaction with the populace during council meetings live broadcasting through youtube and facebook should be considered and experimented with. I will fight to make sure residents know what is happening at the local level and that we are working in your best interests.

Public Safety

 

It has become plainly obvious that the current model of public safety provided by law enforcement has not served the intended purposes of protecting all the people. As a suburb of Los Angeles, Santa Clarita has a growing diverse population and a responsibility to its citizens to make changes where changes are needed. As Santa Clarita has grown, so too have the voices of discontent with law enforcement across the county. While the local sheriffs are not under direct control by the city council, the council most definitely has a say in the continued contract and how the sheriffs conduct their business within the city limits. 

I have been doing a lot of listening and learning about the issues many citizens have with policing and I think it is time I make it clear that I want to be part of the solution to reform our public safety system. 

I want to note that this platform is an amalgamation of many different ideas and concepts and while we may not get everything right, we are able to learn and adapt and reform the system again if need be. Like all things, the government is a work in human progress.

While I appreciate the sacrifices our brothers and sisters make every day to serve their communities, law enforcement culture has become toxic to efforts of reform and an entire overhaul of the institution is needed. Our great city has a unique opportunity to be an active participant in changing our local law enforcement culture. Our sheriffs department is under the jurisdiction of Los Angeles County, which limits our city council’s ability to negotiate budgets or reforms we expect to take place when a national outcry such as what we experienced in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. Santa Clarita is poised to be a leader and a model in this space, and I will push for the city to take control of our local law enforcement service and work to negotiate a fair and befitting contract which includes reforms to how officers engage the public, how funds are spent, and the culture that rookie officers are expected to acclimate to on their way to a veteran status. We are lucky to have this chance to build a modern partnership with law enforcement from the ground up, with accountability and transparency built into whatever comes next.

Policing as it is now must change and be compartmentalized into smaller departments that handle different aspects of societal issues. Society expects police to do everything, but no policeman is prepared for everything society expects of them. We cannot reasonably expect a person trained in law enforcement to respond to a call related to mental illness with the knowledge or understanding of the situation that a medical professional would. In addition, those that opt to stay as servants of community safety trained to respond to potential violence should have requirements of schooling in the fields of communications, human sciences, and history or some combination of the above. If any public safety servant does not already have a degree in higher education in these fields, then we should provide free education to them so they can complete the courses required to do so. The reality of the one-size-fits-all approach to policing has left many vulnerable communities underserved by an institution designed to protect them, we need to make sure that those who are responding to their care are trained to do so.     

To reduce incidents in the field, police should be extensively trained to deescalate any situation, and de-escalation training should be mandatory by every police department in the state with an added emphasis on this aspect of police work and a decreased emphasis on warrior training.  We also need to take a serious look at the tactics law enforcement employs such as chokeholds, strangleholds, shooting without warning first, shooting at moving vehicles—we can take valuable lessons from the 8CantWait campaign that have proven effective at reducing the loss of life at law enforcement’s hands. These are victims that could have lived long productive lives or criminals who never faced justice. Thankfully, LA County Sheriff Department has already come out in support of the 8CantWait campaign and policies, instituting this as a de facto policy will bring renewed trust and comfort when citizens call on the police to resolve a violent incident or escalating situation. There are still three things I want to see implemented: requiring a warning before any offensive action where possible, the requirement to exhaust all alternatives to de-escalate any situation before committing to the use of force, and comprehensive reporting of all incidents, which can be reviewed by the public.

There have been a lot of calls to defund the police. I agree that this institution needs to be restricted in how they can use funding, which will provide more funds for the community and resolve some of the glaring issues we have seen come from overinflated budgets. We need to ban police and sheriff’s departments from purchasing military arsenals and weapons. I should not see the same kinds of vehicles on main street that I see while I am serving our country in the military.  Some of those savings can be deployed to other community projects or to our healthcare system, supporting the workers on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19. 

Ultimately, the current structures of law enforcement can be replaced by something more modern, more representative of the communities they are designed to protect, more transparent to the people and to their oversight, as well as easier to reform. We cannot do that under the current city council leadership, which called for an unnecessary curfew and overreached in calling the national guard to restrict our citizens’ first amendment right to protest. We cannot allow what happened in Minnesota, Louisville, and so many other places to happen here due to an upholding of the status quo and reelecting the same ideas over and over again—our community doesn’t have to wait for a tragedy and abuse of power to happen our doorstep to realize these issues exist everywhere. I know there is much more that we can do and must be done, but these are my intentions at the start, and I hope we can all learn and improve from there.

Veterans

As a veteran, I understand what the experience of transitioning to civilian life is like and how difficult it can be. Many of the homeless population are veterans as well, struggling to readjust and find gainful employment. The city needs to promote the hiring of veterans by giving preference to those who have served.  Veterans are revered in the community through monuments and landmarks but not in the way of general direct support through a leg up in the hiring process. It is a small way that can mean a great deal for those veterans seeking an excellent employment and long prosperous careers after serving our country.

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Paid for by Chris Werthe for Santa Clarita City Council 2020 FPPC ID# 1419137  |  campaign@wertheforscv.com

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