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Election Results

Darcy, Ferry and Weste Win Seats

Santa Clarita: City Council election pitted 14 candidates in race for three spots. New generation of young, conservative politicians now represented.

April 15, 1998|DARRELL SATZMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

SANTA CLARITA — Veteran Councilwoman Jo Anne Darcy, who has served on the City Council since Santa Clarita was incorporated slightly more than 10 years ago, will be joined by newcomers Frank Ferry and Laurene Weste, who won seats in Tuesday's election.

With all of the city's 40 precincts reporting, Darcy, a senior field deputy for Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, was sweeping toward a first-place finish in the at-large election in which a record 14 candidates ran for three seats on the five-member council.

The race--in which more than half of the council positions were at stake, was considered pivotal in Santa Clarita--where differences about how the city should attempt to reduce environmental impacts from the massive Newhall Ranch development are likely to shape politics in the coming term.

As Darcy and Ferry pulled safely ahead of their closest rivals, there was a festive mood at a party for the two candidates.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday April 16, 1998 Valley Edition Metro Part B Page 3 Zones Desk 1 inches; 33 words Type of Material: Correction
Newhall Ranch--The status of the proposed Newhall Ranch development before the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors was incorrect in stories Sunday and Wednesday. The board is reviewing the development but has not approved it.

"I'm excited. I really do want to win four years more," Darcy said. "This is an opportunity for us to finish all the great things we have started. There's a lot more to do."

While Weste's victory was a mild surprise, the five candidates expected to garner the most votes in the election did finish on top.

The election of Ferry, 32, demonstrated that talk of a youth movement was justified in Santa Clarita, where 40% of the population is younger than 22 but where the council has been dominated by middle-aged or older residents.

While the youngest candidates--Valencia High School senior Michael Egan, 18, and Ryan Krell, 19, a student at College of the Canyons--finished far back in the pack, Ferry represents a new generation of young, conservative Santa Clarita politicians.

But Cameron Smyth, 26, deputy chief of staff to state Sen. William (Pete) Knight (R-Palmdale), lost. The two new council members will fill one of two seats left open by the retirements of Smith's father, Clyde Smith, and Carl Boyer III.

Ferry, a teacher at Valencia High School, narrowly missed out in his bid for the council two years ago. His primary theme during the campaign was improving safety in Santa Clarita, which last year was rated the fourth safest city in America.

A flushed Ferry stood nervously sipping a soft drink amid a crowd of student supporters at City Hall on Tuesday night, saying he was not taking his victory for granted until the last vote was counted.

"I'm nervous; put it that way. We were ahead last time until right at the end and then we lost by 156 votes," he said. "Tonight we were campaigning all the way up to 8 o'clock."

Ferry credited Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, (R-Santa Clarita) his campaign manager, for helping to organize his successful bid for the council.

"I am 32, and I have two kids. I'm part of a big segment of the population here that hasn't been represented in city government."

The election of Weste, 49, a Santa Clarita park commissioner, was unlikely to shift the balance of power on the council. She promised that her record of community involvement will help lead Santa Clarita into the next century.

Immediately behind the winners were Smyth and Marsha McLean, 57, a businesswoman and community activist who led a successful fight to prevent a dump from being built in Elsmere Canyon. A key issue facing the new council is the Newhall Ranch project. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors recently gave tentative approval to the development, which could bring up to 70,000 residents to a 19-square-mile site just outside the city limits in an unincorporated area of the county.

While virtually everyone in town agrees the development would have an adverse effect on the city, there are broad differences between those who believe the city should negotiate to reduce the project's scope and those who believe the city should take legal action against it.

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Other important issues facing the new council will be where and when to begin construction of badly needed new roads and what can be done to relieve overcrowded schools.

A recent city survey also indicated that despite its excellent safety record, Santa Clarita residents rate crime among their top concerns.

What had been a notably tame race heated up this week with the distribution of two inflammatory mailers. The first, sent by an organization called the Southern California Taxpayers Alliance, urged residents to vote against McLean. The same group earlier sent a mailer endorsing Darcy, Ferry and Smyth.

The second was sent by IQ PAC in McLean's defense. Candidates on both sides have denied that they had anything to do with the mailers, and it is unclear what effect, if any, they had on voters Tuesday.

The other candidates in the race were Kent Carlson, Dennis Conn, Michael Egan, David Ends, Ryan Krell, Jeffery O'Keefe, Wendell Simms, Chuck Simons and Ed Stevens.

With about 6,000 absentee and mail-in ballots received by Tuesday afternoon--compared with 3,500 last year--city officials said they were confident that turnout would be higher than in 1996, when only 16% of registered voters cast ballots.

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