Election 2014

4 questions for Muril Clift and Bruce Gibson, 2nd District supervisor candidates

newsroom@thetribunenews.comApril 18, 2014 

Board of Supervisors, 2nd District

Term: 4 years • Salary: $82,014 per year

The Tribune asked Muril N. Clift and Bruce Gibson, candidates in the 2nd District SLO County Board of Supervisors race, to answer each of these four questions in 125 words or less.

MURIL CLIFT

Muril N. Clift, 71, is a retired insurance agent. He serves as a director of the Cambria Community Service District and as a commission with the county Local Agency Formation Commission. He previously served as a director of the Santa Maria Public Airport District and as a trustee in the Kern County High School District. Clift has a bachelor’s degree from San Jose State College. A Democrat, he lives in Cambria with his wife of 50 years. They have one adult son.

What will be your top goal for the first six months of your term?

My campaign has been all about listening and bringing people together. My top goal for the first six months is to bring together the elected representatives of all the communities of the north coast to discuss common concerns and begin the process of finding common solutions. All of the communities of the north coast are experiencing sewer, water and other infrastructure problems that may require regional solution. Cooperation and coordination will be essential to the solutions.

If more money becomes available as the county budget crisis eases, how would you like to see it spent?

Since the economic down turn, starting in 2008, the County has balanced its budget by a combination of deferred maintenance, holding down employee costs and use of reserves. As the economy improves I think any increased county revenues should be used first to begin to repair our roads, piers and building infrastructure which was deferred. This would provide local jobs to aid in the economic recovery. Second, we need to look at the concessions made by county employees and develop plans for improving their environment. Third, we should set aside a portion of any increased funds as reserves for future emergency needs.

The county is dealing with extreme drought and dwindling aquifer levels. What additional steps would you take to deal with the crisis? There are only three strategies to protecting the dwindling aquifers. First, the quickest and cheapest source of new water is an aggressive conservation program. We have to quit treating conservation as a public relations campaign. We need to replace "table top" brochures with real restrictions, rebates and building codes that reward water savers and punish water wasters. Second, we need to quit dumping thousands of acre feet of recyclable water. This water needs to be cleaned and used to recharge our water basins. Third, we need to look for long term solutions to finding new sources of water and new ways to store more water when it is available.

The Los Osos sewer project has been a divisive event. What will you do to heal the rifts in the community?

I need to unite the community behind the reality the sewer is being completed. I need to redirect the energy of both pro and anti sewer individuals to working on the common goal of stabilizing or reducing the cost of the sewer project. I need to mobilize the energy of these very talented and committed individuals to apply pressure to agencies for grants and loan interest reductions. As the county's representative I need to lead in oversight of the project to assure: 1) contractors are meeting their obligations without over charges, and 2) the county is not burdening the project with costs that should be covered by general county funds, such road maintenance and paving which was deferred by the county.

BRUCE GIBSON

Bruce Gibson, 61, is 2nd District county supervisor and a rancher in Cayucos. He previously served on the county Planning Commission and as a member of the county advisory board on the Williamson Act. He is a former board member with the Cayucos Land Conservancy and the Land Conservancy of SLO County. Gibson has a bachelor’s degree in physics from Pomona College, a master’s degree in geophysics fromUniversity of Hawaii and a PhD in geophysics from Rice University. He has two grown sons.

What will be your top goal for the first six months of your term in office?

Water issues will be at the top of my list for some time to come. My top priority will be to assure that every community has a safe, reliable drinking water supply. Each community in District 2 (and throughout the county) has a unique challenge in meeting this goal. Each community likely will require a different solution, depending on its water source and available infrastructure. I have been working collaboratively with each water purveyor — whether a county department, a city or a services district – to expedite the necessary permits and identify funding sources. I am committed to securing this basic service as effects of the drought are seen this summer and possibly beyond.

If more money becomes available as the county budget crisis eases, how would you like to see it spent?

I’ve consistently stated that we need the same strategic approach to expansion as we have had during the last six years of truly difficult budget cuts. We will need a balanced allocation of extra funds to: 1) Return our reserves to prudent levels so we can survive the next recession (which most certainly will come!); 2) Cautiously restore programs cut during the last six years and fund new programs that address the changing realities of water resource management, criminal justice and health care services; and 3) Attract and retain the best possible employees, as we face baby boomers retiring, so that SLO County is staffed by the most dedicated and talented public servants. This balanced approach will serve county residents well over the long term.

The county is dealing with extreme drought and dwindling aquifer levels. What additional steps would you take to deal with the crisis?

As noted above, we need to organize emergency response projects that might be needed in the next three to 18 months. Communities such as Cambria, for instance, depend on small, shallow aquifers and may face an out-of-water emergency by this summer. The county is also working to assess our water supply portfolio and upgrade our water delivery infrastructure. For example, county staff are preparing a pipeline connection that will secure the drinking water supply of the California Men’s Colony, Camp San Luis Obispo and other water users all the way to the City of Morro Bay. By working together, we can take advantage of a diversified water supply to weather this difficult dry period.

The Los Osos sewer project has been a divisive event. What will you do to heal the rifts in the community?

As the wastewater project passes the midpoint of construction, I’m already seeing signs that the community is coming back together. Public meetings are less contentious and a recent celebration of the pipeline construction’s impending completion was very positive. I’ve been pleased to work with several organizations in Los Osos, such as Rotary, Kiwanis, the Chamber of Commerce, and Celebrate Los Osos, on events and projects that build a sense of community. I will continue to work with them and community members to improve park facilities and expand the library, as I have elsewhere in the district. These are the kinds of community spaces that bring people together — and help re-establish the sense of community spirit that I know exists in Los Osos.

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