Following a run in 2020, human resource professional Selina Thomas launched her second run for the Santa Clarita City Council in the 2022 election back in June.
Looking back on the 2020 race, Thomas said she learned to start her campaign earlier.
“I learned so much that you need more time for people to get to know you and to understand what the issues are that are important to you,” she said, naming engagement and being an inclusive community as two issues that are important to her. As a candidate, Thomas said she strives to be visible, sincere, and authentic. With this in mind, she took two weeks off of work so she could increase her visibility to the Santa Clarita community before officially announcing her campaign.
Thomas is a registered independent, something she said reflected what she learned about the diversity of SCV voters.
“What I learned about our voters as a first-time candidate… was that we have a more diverse community than one would realize,” she said. “I received votes from Republicans, Democrats, libertarians – and so I learned, more than anything, that I’m on the right track.”
In understanding the wide array of issues voters in SCV care abou, Thomas said she was able to relate to voters on an identity level.
“I’m a business owner, I’m a homeowner, I’m a single mother, I’m African American and Filipino… I’m a product of hard work from this community,” she said. “I can connect as a candidate to many people, but the first thing I do is I connect as a person.”
That connection, Thomas thought, is something that sets her apart from the other candidates running for city council.
Thomas became a business owner following her work as a social worker. She said her entrepreneurial background as the CEO of 6 Degrees HR Consulting, a human relations consultancy providing support to small businesses, has given her insight on how COVID-19 impacted the community.
“I am currently part of the recovery in my daily engagement with my clients,” Thomas said. “I’m providing messaging daily to business owners, whether they’re my clients or not, on the latest information so that obviously they can make whatever adjustments they need to.”
In viewing the performance of the current city council’s response to the pandemic and last year’s Black Lives Matter protests, Thomas said she believes the city stood “united” in the face of difficult decisions. She supported the council’s handling of the pandemic as well as larger social issues in receiving and responding to feedback from the community.
“We had less [Covid] numbers than most of our surrounding cities and we had much more support for small businesses and their recovery… on social issues, we had more engagement from the city council members… they received a lot of feedback in recent weeks and were open to that feedback,” she said.
“Validation of your constituents is the first step, and understanding and honoring Juneteenth was very important to me,” she added.
One policy that Thomas supports in regards to a COVID-19 business recovery includes “essentialized locations” providing information about the latest changes in guidelines coming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, legal experts and local government officials. She said this way business owners, especially small business owners, are not misguided when it comes to COVID-19 restrictions.
Another focus of hers has been for a greater emphasis on the “people” part of business, as she described it, specifically health and wellness.
“In order for a business to run, the people have to be available, they have to be healthy, they have to feel safe in the workplace… it’s a hard position to be in,” she said, then added that she believes in prioritizing listening to and helping both business owners and their employees.
When it comes to the long-term effects of COVID-19, Thomas said local municipalities will need to provide “feedback… that supports our economic infrastructure.” Based on feedback about the impact of businesses at the local level, state and federal legislators can advocate for new policy on a broader scale, she said.
“We might have [case, death and hospitalization] numbers that go down, but the impact is going to be five, six, seven, eight years,” she said. “We are a community that can bring big business here and allow people more sustainable jobs to live here, and have that work-life balance that other communities can have… big business can be business here.”
Thomas’ position as an entrepreneur and a mother of athletes contributed to what she said are two important platforms, those being business recovery and growth, and supporting student athletes. As a single parent to three girls very engaged in sports, Thomas said she will advocate for sports to not only be enhanced, but supported at the city level as a pathway for opportunities in a way that Santa Clarita residents understand.
Looking at her standing in the race – running against Saugus Union School Board trustee David Barlavi, psychiatrist Aakash Ahuja and William S. Hart Union High School District trustee Joe Messina – Thomas emphasized the importance of being able to relate to and connect to voters on a personal level as a key characteristic of who she is as a candidate.
“I came from a very organic, sincere place… to have a single mom come out of essentially nowhere into the business sector to subject themselves to the light and energy of being a public figure… I’m unique in that I connect to people [by] being able to relate to a lot of different people… any given day I can wear five or six hats,” she said. “If you look at the council and Selina Thomas is sitting there, a softball mom can relate to me. A business owner can relate to me. An African American woman, a Filipino woman, so many different people can relate to me in one gesture.”
“I’m going into this [campaign] eyes wide-open, with or without the districting issue being resolved by 2022… because I want to serve the community.”
This story inaugurates a series by The Proclaimer to cover all of the current and future candidates running for the Santa Clarita City Council election, including the incumbents running for re-election.
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