All three candidates running to represent the South County’s 4th District on the Board of Supervisors pride themselves as fiscal conservatives, agree that the Oceano Dunes should be kept open for off-roading and oppose plans to drill for oil in the Huasna Valley.
But coming from different backgrounds, they differ in the qualifications and experience they touted at a forum Saturday in Nipomo.
Arroyo Grande City Councilman Jim Guthrie, Lucia Mar school board member and county Parks Commissioner Paul Teixera and attorney and rancher Mike Zimmerman are running in June’s election.
They seek to replace Supervisor Katcho Achadjian, who is stepping down after three four-year terms to run for state Assembly.
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The audience of about 250 grilled candidates mostly on issues such as development, affordable housing, traffic, pollution from autos and off-roading at the Dunes, as well as recreational facilities and proposed oil drilling.
The Nipomo Incorporation Committee for Education hosted the morning forum in the Monarch Club at Trilogy in the Woodlands community.
All candidates agreed that the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area should be kept open because it is an essential part of the area’s tourism economy.
They said that a recent study claiming particulates from the Dunes are polluting air in the Nipomo Mesa should be considered very carefully, arguing that its findings may be overstated.
Teixeira said he would like to see the off-roading areas at the Oceano Dunes expanded.
When a question was asked about creating recreational facilities at Nipomo Community Park, the candidates disagreed.
Teixeira and Zimmerman would like to see a community center in a high traffic area like the park, but Guthrie said he would consider the demand for recreational facilities and their potential impact on parking and traffic.
None of the candidates are in favor of a proposal for oil drilling in the Huasna Valley.
They raised concerns about cleaning up after drilling is finished and questioned whether it would be a waste of money because the oil might not be worth the cost of drilling. Candidates also suggested that large trucks involved in drilling and transporting the oil would cause traffic problems.
All three prided themselves on being the most fiscally conservative candidate and touted their experience — each calling himself the most qualified to represent the 4th District.
The district includes Arroyo Grande, Oceano and Nipomo, stretching north into the Edna Valley and part of San Luis Obispo.
Guthrie, who is general manager of the Spyglass Inn in Pismo Beach, served with the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District and the YMCA.
He has been president of the Pismo Beach Chamber of Commerce and the Santa Barbara Lodging Association. He is also a member of the Hotel Management Association, the South County Historical Society, the Tree Guild and the Five Cities Dog Park Association.
“The key difference between us is that I have nine years of developing and impacting issues,” Guthrie said. “In my voting history and experience in business and City Council, I have been very fiscally conservative, and I promise to make that same commitment to the board.”
Teixeira has lived in Nipomo for 45 years, and in addition to being on the Lucia Mar Unified School District board, he is a member of the county Parks and Recreation Commission and the Dana Adobe Nipomo Amigos.
He said he wants to preserve agricultural land, ensure farmers have adequate water supply and promote affordable housing.
“I’ve lived here a long time, and I’ve watched the community change. I can’t imagine electing someone who is uninvolved in the community,” he said. “I love this community and want to keep it whole.”
Zimmerman, of Arroyo Grande, is president of the San Luis Obispo County Range Improvement Association and a business owner with 30 years of experience in law.
He told the audience that he does not like the direction the county is going with more regulations and agriculture ordinances for farmers and ranchers.
“I want to be an advocate for property owners and business people and get government intrusion out of our lives,” Zimmerman said.