Six candidates apply for Caren Ray's seat on Arroyo Grande City Council

acornejo@thetribunenews.comOctober 22, 2013 

Caren Ray was sworn in as SLO County's 4th District supervisor Tuesday, Oct. 8.


Six candidates have applied to fill the remaining two-year term of the vacant seat on the Arroyo Grande City Council.

The City Council voted earlier this month to fill the seat by appointment versus holding a special election after Caren Ray resigned to serve on the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors.

One key issue the new council member will face during his or her tenure is deciding whether Arroyo Grande should become a charter city.

The council will debate that issue before year’s end. An 11-member committee, appointed to form recommendations on the idea, will advise the council on whether the city should place a measure on the ballot in December.

The candidates are:

  • Kristen Barneich, current vice chair of the city’s Planning Commission and past member of the Architectural Review Committee. Barneich, a stay-at-home mom, is an Arroyo Grande High School graduate and has served on city advisory bodies since 2005.
  • Christopher Fontes, senior director of revenue for Dignity Health, who has lived in Arroyo Grande for one year. In the past, Fontes, who has four young children, was a member of the Little League board and Kiwanis.
  • Dale Hanson, a self-employed real estate appraiser, retired from a career in human resources. His past experience includes a year as the personnel director for the county of San Luis Obispo and stints as director of classified personnel at several school districts, including Long Beach Community College District. Hanson also served on the state Personnel Board.
  • Barbara Harmon, a retired probation officer for Santa Barbara County, who has lived in Arroyo Grande since 1988. Harmon said she had planned to run for a seat on the council in 2014 before the vacancy occurred. She served on the city’s centennial gala dinner committee in 2011.
  • Burke Nelson, a contract research attorney with a Santa Maria law firm. Nelson serves as the attorney alternate for the county’s Air Pollution Control District Hearing Board. Nelson plans to run for election in 2014.
  • Gloria “Glo” Rivera, a self-employed small-business consultant, who has lived in Arroyo Grande for more than two decades. Rivera’s background is in sales, and she is a past member of the Arroyo Grande Chamber of Commerce board of directors.

Mayor Tony Ferrara said that he was pleased with the number of applicants and was looking for someone whose political ideologies would not hinder decision making.

“One of our strengths is that all of our council members focus on the issues at hand and how those issues will impact the city,” Ferrara said. “The city is headed in the right direction fiscally. The new person is going to have to continue on and support conservative fiscal policies that the city has had in place since the economic downturn.”

The new council member’s term will begin on the date of appointment, likely Nov. 12, and end in December 2016.

A public forum for the candidates will be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 29 at the Community Center, 211 Vernon St. The forum will be moderated by the League of Women Voters, and applicants will be asked to answer questions from the public.

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

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