San Luis Obispo Mayor Dave Romero said Wednesday he will not run for the City Council in November, leaving behind a legacy of service spanning more than five decades.
Romero served on the City Council for 16 years — eight years as mayor and eight as a councilman. Before that, he was San Luis Obispo’s public works director for 36 years.
Romero, 81, would have been termed out as mayor in November. He could have sought one of two available four-year term council seats.
“I’ve spent over 50 years with the city — it is my life’s work and my love,” Romero said. “This is probably a very nice time for me to finally say, ‘Gee, what a wonderful career.’ I’ve been blessed to be able to do this and now is the time to walk away graciously.”
Three of the city’s five council seats will be up for re-election in November: Romero’s two-year seat and the four-year seats held by Councilmen Allen Settle and Andrew Carter.
Settle, who has served on the council for more than 30 years, will also be termed out and must seek the mayoral position if he runs in November.
Settle has not yet decided if he will run for mayor.
Councilwoman Jan Marx announced in April that she will seek Romero’s seat. She was elected to the council in the last election and still has nearly three years left on her four-year term.
She plans to retire from her law practice next month to free up more time for the council. Marx said she will continue to serve as a council member if she is not elected mayor.
Other contenders for the seat include former councilman Paul Brown, who announced his intent to run Wednesday. Brown recently graduated from the law enforcement academy at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria and is seeking a job in law enforcement.
Brown said he will make sure that the job he takes will allow enough flexibility to fill the role as mayor, if he wins that post.
Romero said that he plans to endorse Brown as the city’s mayoral candidate, and Brown said he was humbled by Romero’s support.
Carter will seek a new term, and community member Terry Mohan, a vocal critic of the city, has said he will also seek a council seat. Mohan said he might run for mayor if he is not satisfied with the other candidates.
Dan Carpenter, who ran unsuccessfully for the council in 2008, said late Wednesday he plans to seek election again. Carpenter has served on the Planning Commission and is currently chairman of the Cultural Heritage Committee.
Romero said he plans to stay involved in the day-to-day city operations on an indefinite basis at the end of his term.“I am not leaving my city,” Romero said. “I still want to be here and a part of it, I just feel that someone else with more vitality and better health should take over the reins now. I am always going to love this city.”
San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce President Dave Garth was among those who praised Romero’s dedication. “I had a bit of nostalgia and sadness hearing the news,” Garth said. “The Romero era brought stability and civil discourse to the City Council — we have a tradition of that — and he has maintained it.”
Garth said Romero’s ability to listen to everyone was beneficial.
“It is unusual that a person is willing to carry that passion and energy year after year,” Garth said. “He deserves a lot of credit for that.”