SANTA CLARITA – The 11 candidates running for three City Council seats in April’s election offered a preview of their vision for Santa Clarita during a recent public forum. The three incumbents hailed their track records for getting things done while the challengers questioned whether leaders are too eager for growth, neglectful of the east side of town and unable or unwilling to establish a permanent homeless shelter. About 80 people attended Wednesday’s event, which was sponsored by the Canyon Country Advisory Committee. “If you could put them all together into one (candidate) it would be just great,” said Jean Ferdman, who was in the audience. “We can’t build our way out of an infrastructure deficit,” Plambeck said. “It is now a pro-growth council. They’re approving houses like crazy.” Councilman Frank Ferry noted some newer Plum Canyon developments and the Stonecrest neighborhood are outside city boundaries, thus beyond the council’s control. He praised the Golden Valley Ranch project for bringing in retail stores and senior housing. “(And) 900 acres of open space, all paid for by the developer,” Ferry said. He spoke of amenities that would attach to the proposed Keystone project due shortly before the council: a YMCA, open space and land for schools, saying “those are things I want you to look for.” Teacher, business owner and 25-year Canyon Country resident Kenneth Dean lamented that “Canyon Country does not need any more fast-food restaurants or storage facilities,” and said it is time for planners to figure out how to attract upscale shops and restaurants to the area. Councilwoman Marsha McLean pointed to the city’s hiring of an economic development manager and its desire to improve the area, and her own full-time attention to the issues that come before the council. Michael Cruz, a paralegal in the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, said space on the east side should be set aside for a hospital, a sheriff’s station and a constituent center, and said the city has a “moral obligation” to support a homeless shelter. Schultz and businessman Jack Murphy agreed the city needs a permanent shelter. While the city’s proposed $25-a-year special assessment to fund park and open space purchases was defeated by voters, several challengers championed land purchases. “I think you should have a fixed fee, a fixed time to buy land … for open space and parks,” said Mark Hershey, a 21-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He called the council a pretty good team but said they are “not going to go to the Super Bowl.” Cruz proposes reducing the city’s budget so parkland can be bought without raising taxes. Canyon Country resident Ervia Mankowski, who attends advisory committee meetings, wanted to find out what the speakers had in mind for her area. “I want to make sure our community gets some upscale stores. I don’t want us to be left out,” she said. At the end of the evening, Alan Ferdman, chairman of the advisory committee, said he was pleased with the turnout and learned a lot about the candidates. California Highway Patrol Officer Dwight McDonald and retired attorney JoAnn Smith Curtis also participated in the forum. In the race to raise campaign funds, Ferry tops the list of incumbents at $108,000, while Weste has received about $58,000 and McLean has raised about $32,000. Hershey leads the pack of challengers at just under $13,000; Schultz has raised about $5,700; Cruz has raised about $3,700; and Plambeck about $3,100. Dean, Smith Curtis and McDonald have not declared any contributions. Murphy said he will not take donations. Candidates who spend their own money below the $1,000 threshold are not required to prepare itemized reports of their expenses. There is no limit on fundraising, but the maximum contribution allowed for individuals and businesses alike is $360. An established entity, Action for Better Government, headed by consultant Allan Cameron, has not filed a statement for this election, though the group has filed semiannual statements for some time. A committee, Citizens for Integrity in Government, which treasurer Ed Colley said is supporting the incumbents, has not declared contributions. Judy O’Rourke, (661) 257-5255 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE‘Mame,’ ‘Hello, Dolly!’ composer Jerry Herman dies at 88 Candidates were each given nine minutes to speak on a range of topics supplied to them in advance, many of which were Canyon Country-specific. Environmentalists Henry Schultz and Lynne Plambeck zeroed in on development, with Schultz calling for less dense projects, adopting a redevelopment plan in Canyon Country similar to the one in Downtown Newhall and annexing willing communities as soon as possible to save money. “The current council is lukewarm,” Schultz said. “We should be out gung-ho, saying ‘we want you to join us.”‘ Mayor Laurene Weste countered that Canyon Country does not fit the criteria for a redevelopment area, noting the city’s Neighborhood Reinvestment Program provides proactive code enforcement for eyesores. Plambeck championed mixed-use projects, but said growth needs to slow a little so amenities can catch up.