Three of the four San Luis Obispo mayoral candidates discussed their views Wednesday on key topics such as the city’s future economic vitality, binding arbitration in salary disputes with city employees and the November ballot measure that seeks to stop the planned extension of Prado Road.
Paul Brown, former City Council member and businessman, Andrew Farrell, Cal Poly student, and Jan Marx, councilmember and attorney, attended the first mayoral candidates’ forum, hosted by the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club of San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. Donald Hedrick, a welder who is also running, did not attend.
The candidates fielded questions from an audience of more than 60, many of them Rotary Club members, on a range of topics from promoting local business to the city’s relationship with Cal Poly.
The candidates agreed that the city’s future economic vitality should be a priority of the City Council but differed in their approach.
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Marx said she would like to work with Cal Poly to create an “incubator” facility for students interested in launching businesses focused on technology and “green business” to start those companies locally.
Brown said he’d like to see San Luis Obispo recruit businesses fueled by revenue from outside the city limits to act as an economic driver.
When asked if they would help lead the city in undoing the binding arbitration decision that awarded sizeable raises to police in 2008, all three candidates said that it wasn’t in their purview on the council to do so.
“That needs to be organically driven by the community,” said Farrell, an international management and political science major at Cal Poly. “But I would aide and assist.”
All three candidates said they will vote against Measure H — which seeks to halt a planned extension of Prado Road — stating that the northern alignment of Prado is entwined in more than a decade of city planning and to change that would be too costly, impacting traffic and housing plans, for example.
“I see this as an issue that has to do with stopping, chopping, amputating Prado Road rather than allowing it to connect,” said Marx, who voted against the northern alignment in 2000. “Ten years have passed since then, and it would be counterproductive now.”
The city’s relationship with Cal Poly has room for improvement, according to the candidates.
“It is like two twins who don’t want to admit they know one another,” said Brown, who advocates for the need of better discussion between city and college administrators on citywide issues.
Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.