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Election Seasoning
November, 2016 - Issue #145
"But don't count out Cameron Smyth: He's not an incumbent, but he's definitely incumbent-ish. It's a well-known surname around these parts and he's had success WINNING a seat on both the City Council and in the State Assembly in the past."
Politics is going to come up at the Thanksgiving table this year. It's simply unavoidable. If your gathering is a small one, everyone might hold similar political views. But if you're having a lot of people over, disagreement is a foregone conclusion. Counterintuitively, I advise seating political enemies right next to each other for dinner to keep their arguments contained. If you put them at opposite ends of the table, they're still going to disagree, but they're going to have to scream across the whole table to let the other person know. Thanksgiving dinner politics can't come soon enough for me, but first we've got the election that will set the stage.

Lesser Contests
Most Claritans are well equipped to handle the big question on November's ballot. They know Clinton, they know Trump and they might even know third party candidates Johnson and Stein. But are any of these names as familiar? White, Wieczorek, Smyth, Ruelas, Nichols, Kellar, Hargett, Haddock, Ferdman, Dean, Boydston. Those are your choices for Santa Clarita City Council. They're the ones who will govern the city and prioritize how tax dollars get spent. Conventional wisdom says that Mayor Bob Kellar and Councilman TimBen Boydston are favored to win because they're incumbents and the many alternative candidates will hopelessly divide efforts to elect someone new. But don't count out Cameron Smyth: He's not an incumbent, but he's definitely incumbent-ish. It's a well-known surname around these parts and he's had success winning a seat on both the City Council and in the State Assembly in the past.
There's plenty more to watch, like Congressman Steve Knight's battle to keep his seat against Democratic challenger Bryan Caforio, not to mention state races. The more you follow these lesser contests, the less "lesser" they become.

The Pot Prop
There are a lot of propositions to consider this election cycle. Some are pretty trivial, like a referendum on a ban of single-use plastic bags and a proposition that, among other things, specifies who foots the bill for sexually-transmitted infection testing of adult film stars. Others are far more serious, like a pair of measures on the death penalty. Prop 62 would abolish it, while Prop 66 seeks to streamline the execution process, mostly by challenging how long appeals can go on. All of these propositions have their supporters and detractors. However, the only one that seems to get younger people excited is Proposition 64, which proposes legalizing recreational marijuana use. If current polling is any indication, it will pass easily.
One of the main arguments for legalization is that it will benefit the economy. Given the immense amounts of marijuana already consumed by Claritans for ostensibly "medical" reasons, I'm not sure how much more could possibly be bought/consumed.

Political Refuge
California is a taken-for-granted "blue" state. There may be millions of California Republicans, but that doesn't matter for the presidential race because there are millions more California Democrats. Nothing you can do will change to whom our electoral votes belong. Apart from fundraising, presidential campaigns spend little time or effort here.
If you have family fly in from other states, they might be more shell-shocked by the past few months. Battleground states are a whole different experience. Candidates pour a lot of money into hotly-contested states, so the airwaves are blanketed with political ads. Polling by the candidates and national news outlets is intense, and populations are smaller than California, so the odds of getting harassed by pollsters go up. Reminders that you might decide the election are everywhere. So yes, talk politics at Thanksgiving, but don't overdo it with politics-weary guests from swing states like Ohio. A chance to decompress in our politically-apathetic world is one of the things they might heart most about SCV.

This column is intended as satire and a (sometimes successful) attempt at humor.
Suggestions, catty comments and veiled threats intended for the author can be e-mailed to iheartscv@insidescv.com.
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