Muril Clift to challenge Bruce Gibson in county supervisor race

ktanner@thetribunenews.comOctober 14, 2013 

Muril Clift

CAMBRIAN FILE PHOTO

Muril Clift, a director of the Cambria Community Services District, plans to challenge incumbent Bruce Gibson to represent the North Coast as 2nd District county supervisor.

The primary election is June 3.

Clift said Monday he expects to file papers Tuesday or Wednesday to form an elections committee for his campaign. That move allows him to begin collecting money for a campaign fund.

Contacted on Monday, Gibson said he “fully expected to have competition” for the seat. “I look forward to the campaign,” he added.

It’s likely to be a lively contest. Neither man is reticent about stating opinions or standing up for his beliefs.

When asked what the differences are between the two candidates, Gibson said he didn’t know yet, because “I’ve not heard at all what his vision of the job is. … I haven’t heard his case as to why he’s running for supervisor.”

The two men were to have faced off at a Cambria Democratic Club meeting Tuesday night, but Gibson said Monday he had to cancel because of some “minor health issues, causing me to slow down my schedule a bit … to get a little rest.”

Clift, a Democrat, has been a Cambria district director since being appointed in March 2008 to fill a vacancy left after Don Villeneuve resigned. Clift represents the CCSD on several regional and state boards, including as chairman of the county’s Local Agency Formation Commission.

As a services director, he’s butted heads with Gibson and other county representatives, State Parks, the Cambria Community Healthcare District and even the California Coastal Commission. Issues have ranged from the CCSD issuing intent-to-serve letters (a retrofit-to-build concept on water use) while the district is under a formal declaration of water-supply emergency, to sharing facilities, staffing and responsibilities with the healthcare district.

Clift’s big issues have been desalination as a new source of water for Cambria and releasing intent-to-serve letters for future water connections — in part to bring more money into the district, and thereby help pay for infrastructure.

“I’ve seen Bruce become very controlling,” he said of Gibson. “You have to go and beg for relief.”

Clift said that the “control has kept the communities of the North Coast strapped so we can’t meet our needs to provide water and other services because we can’t grow at all.”

He said the Cambria services district is “talking about rate increases because the infrastructure is deteriorating and we don’t have any new individuals to help pay the cost.”

“It’s really a matter of the same people paying a higher cost,” Clift said. “Without new residents, the existing citizens are paying higher rates to offset the deferred maintenance.”

Clift also advocates shared solutions to similar problems, such as a cooperative water concept between Cambria, San Simeon, Cayucos, Morro Bay and Los Osos.

Clift is a retired owner of a State Farm insurance office.

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