Editorial

Caren Ray’s energy, dedication benefit the 4th District

She has the proven ability to independently analyze issues

letters@thetribunenews.comApril 21, 2014 

Caren Ray has already proven that she can step into public office under challenging circumstances and quickly get up to speed to be an effective, hardworking and independent representative.

We believe she is the best choice for county Board of Supervisors.

To recap, Ray was appointed to the Arroyo Grande City Council in 2010 to replace a member who resigned after being charged in a criminal case. Then, following the death last year of Supervisor Paul Teixeira, Gov. Jerry Brown appointed her to the Board of Supervisors.

Over the past seven months, we’ve been impressed by Ray’s energy, dedication and, especially, her ability to analyze issues, seek solutions and advocate for tough causes.

For example, she’s been strong on the issue of workforce housing, and has shown an ability to analyze the situation from all points of view — including homebuyers’ and builders’ perspectives. She is serving on an ad-hoc committee looking for ways to encourage additional housing for workers who don’t qualify for subsidized housing, yet can’t afford the typical, 2,500-squarefoot home laden with amenities. With home prices on the rise again, housing affordability is quickly becoming critical, and we believe the county will benefit from Ray’s leadership on this issue.

A Democrat, Ray has been accused of voting in liberal lock-step with fellow supervisors Adam Hill and Bruce Gibson, but her record shows otherwise. For example, she voted with North County conservative Debbie Arnold to oppose legislation that would allow creation of a “hybrid” water district for the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin. Among other reasons, Ray objected because the proposal did not expressly prohibit water banking or water export. We disagree with her vote, but we respect her ability to independently analyze an issue and vote accordingly.

We also appreciate Ray’s ability to cut to the chase, as evidenced by her remarks when she voted to approve the controversial proposal for a drive-through McDonald’s restaurant in Los Osos.

“If it were a franchise other than McDonald’s, would we be having this conversation?” she said then. “What we’re here to look at is land use, and I don’t see a problem with the project.”

On the other hand, she can at times come off as more dogmatic than diplomatic. For example, at a recent candidates forum for 4th District supervisor candidates, Ray called it “unethical” for candidate Mike Byrd to take a hard-nosed position in opposition to importation of more oil to the Phillips 66 refinery by rail, since that will be coming to the Board of Supervisors. We can understand why Ray would not want to unequivocally state her position at this point, since she will likely be voting on the issue in December. However, Byrd is not an elected official, and we believe that Ray went overboard in calling him out.

A few more words about Byrd: He is a strong contender, and we believe he has a solid future in local politics. He is engaging, he cares greatly about his community and his background as a former assistant to a Kern County supervisor gives him a good working knowledge of local government. Byrd has been heavily involved in the effort to improve services for the homeless in South County. Good for him. We hope to see more of him in the future.

The other candidate, Lynn Compton, has an impressive resume: She runs an agricultural supply business with her husband and she recently earned a law degree, among other accomplishments.

However, her unwavering emphasis on property rights is a major concern; she told The Tribune Editorial Board that private property rights is “a prism I look through everything with.”

We, too, believe strongly in property rights, but politics is about balancing competing rights and interests. We seriously question whether Compton — an avowed champion of private property rights — would be capable of finding that balance.

We believe that Caren Ray, on the other hand, already has shown that she does consider all sides in deciding issues. On top of that, she has the background, the experience and the dedication to deal with challenges facing San Luis Obispo County.

The Tribune strongly endorses Caren Ray for 4th District supervisor.

PRIMARY ELECTION: COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, 4TH DISTRICT

Term: Four years

Candidates:

Mike Byrd, 62; Arroyo Grande resident; real estate broker

Lynn Compton, 50; Nipomo resident; co-owns and operates farm supply business in Santa Maria

Caren Ray, 45; Arroyo Grande resident; appointed incumbent

The Tribune Endorses: Caren Ray

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