Peterson’s vision makes her best pick for Grover mayor

City Council seats should go to Karen Bright and Jeff Lee

letters@thetribunenews.comSeptember 16, 2012 

  • GROVER BEACH MAYOR

    Term: Two years

    Salary: $300 per month

    The candidates: Phyllis A. Molnar, council member, business owner; Debbie Peterson, council member, real estate broker

    The Tribune endorses: Debbie Peterson

    GROVER BEACH CITY COUNCIL

    Number of seats available: Two

    Term: Four years

    Salary: $300 per month

    Candidates: Karen Bright, incumbent; Jeff Lee, civil engineer; Louis Robles; journeyman ironworker; Anita Shower, author/consultant; Liz Doukas White, court reporter/businesswoman

    The Tribune endorses: Karen Bright and Jeff Lee

Grover Beach City Council incumbents Debbie Peterson and Phyllis Molnar are both thoroughly familiar with the workings of municipal government and the issues confronting the city, including its fiscal challenges.

We believe, though, that Peterson’s vision for the city and her wealth of business, public relations and government experience give her the edge.

Some résumé highlights: After earning a bachelor’s degree in communications, Peterson moved to Scotland, where she had spent time as a student. She started a small bakery business there that grew to 95 employees and $4.5 million in annual sales.

Peterson returned to the United States in 1989 to be near family and has been extremely involved in the community; she served on the city Planning Commission prior to her election to the council four years ago. She also has been active in regional organizations as well, such as the SLO County Economic Vitality Corp. and the Visitor & Convention Bureau.

We’re impressed by her ability to build a business from the ground up, and we believe she has the skills, the experience and the energy to promote Grover Beach in a way that will attract the tourism and the new businesses it needs to get back on a firm financial footing. We also like her strong support of the Grover Beach Lodge & Convention Center.

If she is elected mayor, we would urge that she step into a leadership role and encourage the continued exploration of a merger of the Grover Beach and Arroyo Grande police departments.

A word about Molnar: She has been a strong voice on the council, often advocating for minority positions — for example, she alone voted against selling a community garden to help balance the budget. If she loses her bid for mayor, Molnar still will have two years left in her council term, and that will help ensure that all sides of the issues are considered.

We believe the best balance will be to have Molnar continue as council member and to elevate Peterson to mayor.

• • •

Karen Bright was appointed to the City Council in 2007 to fill a vacancy and was then elected to a full term in 2008.

We believe she deserves another four years.

Bright has extensive experience in a variety of fields: She served three terms on the Planning Commission before joining the City Council; she’s worked for San Luis Coastal School District for more than 25 years; and she’s held several leadership positions in community organizations such as Grover Heights PTA and Beach Cities Little League.

She’s handled several tough decisions on the City Council and the countywide Air Pollution District Control board with courage and aplomb. For example, she opted to abstain — rather than vote against her principles — when the APCD board voted to impose new limits on dust emissions from the Oceano Dunes.

Bright is Grover’s representative to the Air Pollution Control District board, and while the Grover Council voted against limits, Bright found she could not, in good conscience, vote that way on the APCD board.

Her abstention was a compromise that we saluted at the time, and we continue to believe that it demonstrates Bright’s character and her ability to look at issues from a broad perspective. The Tribune strongly urges Grover Beach voters to reelect Karen Bright.

Jeff Lee, a civil engineer with county public works, has private and public sector experience in engineering, which will give him a good insight into public works issues facing the city. Through his service on the city’s Parks, Recreation & Beautification Commission, which he chairs, he’s familiar with other government policies and operations, and he’s well aware of the financial challenges facing the city.

We like his common sense approach to issues, such as the unification of Grover Beach and Arroyo Grande police departments. He told The Tribune Editorial Board that he would support such a move only if it benefited the city and put more staff on the street. We’re glad to hear that he’s open to considering the proposal, because we continue to believe that it would be in the best, long-term interests of taxpayers of both cities.

Like Peterson and Bright, he also is a strong advocate of Grover Beach Lodge & Convention Center — a project we believe will be key to Grover’s financial development.

The Tribune strongly endorses Jeff Lee for Grover Beach City Council.

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