Santa Clarita City Council candidates have myriad options to market themselves to voters before the April 8 election.
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But there might be no better way to get their names out to Santa Clarita voters than physically getting themselves out there in front of Santa Clarita voters, according to local pundits, politicos and politicians.
“What’s going to happen is, name recognition is going to be everything,” said Martin Saiz, a political science professor at California State University, Northridge.
A number of factors play a role in this, not the least of which is the fact that people realize their vote will be cast among several thousand, Saiz said. Even in race that doesn’t have a high voter turnout, a single vote doesn’t make all that much difference.
“(Voters) will look for a fairly easy way to make a decision,” Saiz said. “What your neighbor recommends is important; information that’s easy to get is important. In a local campaign, word of mouth is really important.”
As far as getting that information out there to voters, there’s no substitute for meeting with your would-be constituents in person, said Santa Clarita Councilman Bob Kellar.
“The obvious advice is, if you haven’t been engaged, you need to get engaged,” said Kellar, when asked about advice he would give to candidates.
“One obvious is to know your topic, two is to stay positive,” he said. “People, generally speaking, do not like to repeatedly hear a negative tone.”
Which is not to say there isn’t anything negative happening in the city, or any issues that don’t need to be addressed, Kellar said. However, “(Candidates) need to create a comfort with a voter, that also creates confidence,” Kellar said.
There’s also no premium that can be put on a good campaign manager, Kellar said.
“A good campaign manager will make sure you’re being effective in your ability to talk about the message you’re putting out there,” Kellar said, “and making sure you’re hitting all the buttons — there’s so many things you need to do to get out and meet the people.”
Every group has different issues, so being prepared with what to expect as far as topics and questions is critical to building that confidence, Kellar said.
City Councilman TimBen Boydston has the unique distinction of being one of the few individuals who unseated an incumbent during his first successful City Council bid in 2012.
He offered advice for the any challenger who would be looking to upset an incumbent.
“I’ve basically told people who are trying to run for a seat on the council this time around that they need to do many things,” Boydston said.
“One of the things they need to do is not run against each other,” Boydston said, referencing the importance of name recognition. “If they run against each other, that just makes it easier for the incumbents to hold two of those seats.”
Boydston attributed his success, which, like Councilwoman Marsha McLean, came after two unsuccessful campaigns, to 50 residents who worked for his campaign, he said.
“The most important thing is having people who will endorse you and work for you,” he said. Although at the end of the day, there’s a certain amount of money, about $20,000-25,000, which is practically a necessity, he said.
“Even if you have a coalition of the willing,” he said, “you have to pay to get your ballot statement in. You have to be able to pay to be able to buy signs, and then you have to pay to have brochures printed. and then you have to pay to have direct mail.
“There are certain costs you cannot avoid,” he added. “Those are things you need to do to win an election in Santa Clarita in this time, in my opinion.”
And another thing to remember is that it’s a nonstop effort, especially during election season, said McLean, who is seeking re-election in April.
“When it’s campaign time, it’s every minute of every day,” McLean said, referring the to the campaign trail as a “24-7 proposal.”
Valencia resident Matt Denny, who is a member of a few Facebook groups that discuss Santa Clarita politics, among other local issues, said he’s noticed more candidates becoming involved in social media.
“I’m surprised at the extent to which it’s starting to happen,” he said of the Facebook interaction between candidates and potential voters. “But some of the candidates do that better than others.”
The tone a candidate uses resonates with voters, as well as how he or she interacts, Denny said.
Too many negative comments, or responses to individuals who only look to provoke with their feedback, and a voter might turn away a potential voter, he said.
“One of the things I learned a long time ago is you only have so many arrows in your quiver,” he said. “If you use them all up, then you’re not credible anymore.”
Any tool that can be used to get more information out to voters before they make their decision is generally a positive, McLean said.
“It’s obvious that the social network is becoming more and more prevalent,” said McLean, who occasionally posts events and information to local Facebook groups.
But she also approaches the medium carefully.
“It can be a good thing, and it can kind of be a bad thing, as well,” McLean said. “Anyone can say anything they want — it may not always be correct or factual.”
But regardless of the medium, she agreed that it’s very important to stay upbeat.
“I will always run a positive campaign,” she said, adding that she won’t call anyone out, but she will offer information up in an attempt to set the record straight.
One thing is for certain, the 13-person race for three seats will yield at least one new face on the dais.
McLean and Mayor Laurene Weste are competing with Dante Acosta, Sandra Bull, Moazzum Chowdhury, Dennis Conn, Stephen Daniels, Alan Ferdman, Berta Gonzalez-Harper, Maria Gutzeit, Duane Harte, Gloria Mercado-Fortine and Paul Wieczorek for three open spots on April’s ballot.
“I am really encouraged by the fact that people think that (unseating an incumbent) is still a possibility,” said Boydston, who became the third challenger ever to unseat an incumbent in the Santa Clarita’s 25-year history when he defeated Laurie Ender in 2012. “But it’s hard.”
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Source: Santa Clarita News