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COUNCIL SET TO FILL SMYTH'S OLD SEAT APPOINTMENT MAY NOT BE DECIDED.

Byline: JUDY O'ROURKE Staff Writer

SANTA CLARITA -- The Santa Clarita City Council is set to appoint Councilman Cameron Smyth's replacement tonight, a process that has pitted members against one another.

They are wary of picking someone who could tip the balance of power.

``How much flexibility am I willing to give up?'' Councilman Frank Ferry said Monday. ``A person who may not have similar beliefs to my own, who has not gone through public scrutiny, a person I don't know even on a social context, am not sure I'd vote for in a voting booth ... how am I supposed to give them 20 percent control of the direction the city's going to go?''

The process has generated a small amount of controversy, with some saying it gives the appointee an unfair incumbent's advantage in the 2008 election.

On Wednesday, the council interviewed a handful of candidates winnowed from a field of 15 by a council-appointed panel of community leaders, but it was unable to settle on one. The discussion will continue tonight.

Grilled by Ferry at last week's meeting, top candidate Bob Spierer said he had not met with any panelists prior to the panel convening Dec. 1 and he had not been -- at any time -- introduced to community leaders in a bid for support.

But in a letter to the editor Monday, panelist Connie Worden-Roberts acknowledged she introduced Spierer to Santa Clarita Chamber of Commerce President Larry Mankin in the summer as a potential council candidate. Her letter was in response to a Daily News story Saturday that said Worden-Roberts had backed Spierer's future candidacy months ago, then sat on what was supposed to be an impartial committee to recommend top candidates. She gave him her top score.

Worden-Roberts argued that the meeting was held long before she was asked to serve on the committee.

Spierer has not returned numerous calls seeking comment.

Another bump in the road involved Mayor Pro Tem Marsha McLean, who said at last week's meeting, after the five top candidates were interviewed, that she would prefer instead to appoint someone who would not seek the council seat in 2008. The move would help depoliticize the appointment by removing the incumbent's advantage.

The council's first order of business tonight, however, will be naming a new mayor. McLean was passed over for the rotating job in 2004, but seems to have it sewn up now.

The city sent out e-mail invitations Nov. 15 to select officials, giving them advance notice of tonight's meeting in case they wish to attend, speak, or present outgoing Mayor Laurene Weste with a scroll.

Bob Haueter, a senior deputy for county Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, received one. It said that at the Dec. 12 mayoral rotation, a cake reception for outgoing Mayor Weste and incoming Mayor McLean would be held, Haueter said.

Recipients were to notify the city manager's executive secretary if they planned to attend and wished to speak.

Should the council reach an impasse tonight on a candidate, members could interview the next five on the community panelist's list.

judy.orourke@dailynews.com

(661) 257-5255
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 12, 2006
Words:516
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