Berta Gonzalez-Harper and Duane Harte are joining what’s shaping up to be a packed race for Santa Clarita’s City Council election in April 2014.
Both candidates have a long history of involvement in city events and at City Council meetings.
“It’s a crowded field,” said Gonzalez-Harper, a longtime Canyon Country resident, adding that she was spurred to get involved by what she felt was an unnecessary lawsuit against the city.
Harte, a longtime Santa Clarita Valley resident, is planning a formal announcement Thursday at City Hall; however, the word leaked out on social media Friday.
“We realize that the filing period isn’t for another five months yet,” Harte said in an email. “But it takes a lot of preparation and planning to be successful.”
Harte is a commissioner for the city of Santa Clarita’s Parks and Recreation Department, and numerous other city appointments, such as the now defunct Newhall Redevelopment Committee, in addition to serving as a board member of the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society and a member of the SCV Chamber of Commerce and the Veterans Memorial Committee.
Harte recently retired as a business owner of Academy Letters and Printing.
Harper-Gonzalez recently retired from her own public relations firm, BGH Consulting, and felt that the decision afforded her the time necessary for her to do a good job if she were elected to City Council.
In the past, she’s been a part of the Canyon Country Advisory Committee, the Transit Mixed/CEMEX Task Force, Hart Unified District Diversity Committee, the Mayor’s Homeless Task Force, Whittaker-Bermite Citizens Advisory Group and a graduate of the first SCV Sheriffs Community Academy.
For Gonzalez-Harper, the final impetus for her run was the recent lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims civil rights discrimination against the city for denying Latino voters access to the electoral system with its at-large election.
Gonzalez-Harper, who is Hispanic, said she was giving lawyers ammunition by not getting involved in the race, but also that she didn’t want to be known necessarily for being a Hispanic candidate.
“The lawsuit bothers me on a number of levels,” she added. “When you put yourself out there you’re opening yourself up to the public, and I think that has more of a chilling factor than any ethnicity or anything like that.
“I think the city of Santa Clarita provides many of opportunities to get involved,” Gonzalez-Harper said. “To dilute every single aspect down to someone’s race or ethnicity is ridiculous.”
Harte and Gonzalez-Harper will join financial advisor Dante Acosta; Alan Ferdman, who’s chairman of the Canyon Country Advisory Committee Chairman; Maria Gutzeit, president of the Newhall County Water District; and William S. Hart Union High School District board member Gloria Mercado-Fortine.