Contenders emerge for Andrew Carter's SLO City Council seat

acornejo@thetribunenews.comJanuary 29, 2013 

A bustle of behind-the-scenes lobbying has already begun as San Luis Obispo residents scramble to find a replacement for Councilman Andrew Carter, who will resign from his seat in February.

Carter announced last week that he will step down Feb. 20 with two years still remaining in his City Council term to take a full-time job as the city administrator of Guadalupe.

The City Council will decide Feb. 5 if they will appoint someone to fill the vacancy or hold a special election.

Less than a week after Carter’s announcement that he will resign, more than half a dozen residents have already expressed interest in the seat.

Past City Council candidates Jeff Aranguena, a schoolteacher, and Kevin P. Rice, a Los Angeles County firefighter, who lost in November, are already vying for the seat.

In fact, Aranguena’s supporters have inundated City Council members with emails and phone calls saying that he is the logical choice because he was the next runner-up in the election.

Aranguena won the vote of about 19 percent of San Luis Obispo voters in November but trailed significantly behind incumbents Dan Carpenter and John Ashbaugh, who were re-elected.

However, in the last decade only one council member was appointed to the City Council for that reason. Councilman Dan Carpenter, who lost by only by a few hundred votes, was appointed in 2010.

“It was really an anomaly,” Carpenter said.

In the past, the council has not relied on election results to make appointments.

Other familiar names have also surfaced as contenders for the seat.

Former San Luis Obispo Councilman Paul Brown, who is now a police officer in Guadalupe, said he is considering it.

Brown lost narrowly to Mayor Jan Marx in 2010. Brown did serve one term on the council in 2004 but was not re-elected.

Brown is known among the downtown business community as the former owner of Mother’s Tavern. “Andrew Carter is a powerful force on the council,” Brown said. “His leaving is going to change the council’s makeup, and it is really important to continue with someone who has a similar sense of fiscal responsibility.”

Andrea Miller, owner of Spike’s Pub, is also thinking about putting her name in the ring.

Miller ran for City Council in 2010 but lost. She is on the board of directors of the San Luis Obispo Downtown Association and sits on the Safe Nightlife Association committee, which is a conglomeration of downtown bar and restaurant owners formed to address the city's concerns about unruly behavior downtown.

Miller said that she would resign from those roles if she were appointed to the City Council.

Newcomer Amy Kardel, co-owner of Clever Ducks, an information technology services company in San Luis Obispo, will also vie for the seat.

“I am honored to have been asked by community members to serve,” Kardel said. “I look forward to the council's process and decision. I would bring a unique perspective as a multi-generational resident, mom and business owner.”

San Luis Obispo Planning Commissioner Eric Meyer said he briefly considered running but ultimately decided against it because of his existing role as the chair of a citizen task force that is working to update the city’s Land Use and Circulation Element.

The city's charter dictates that the vacant seat must be filled by an appointment made by the majority of the four remaining council members within 30 days of the vacancy. If an appointment is not made, a special election must be called within 150 days.

It would cost more than $65,000 to hold a vote by mail special election to fill Carter’s vacated seat.

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.

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