Encouraging new business and boosting communication between government and the public were among the chief issues discussed Monday during an election forum with Paso Robles’ three mayoral candidates.
Addressing an audience of about 75 people, the panel answered three questions from the Republican Women Federated at the Paso Robles Golf Club.
The candidates, all Republicans, included incumbent Mayor Duane Picanco, a retired shoe shop owner; Planning Commissioner Gary Nemeth, a retired San Luis Obispo police officer; and Mike Gibson, the current Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer.
They agreed that the economy is top-of-mind in the community, and each posed different ways to tackle the downturn.
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Gibson, vying to be “a new voice” in Paso Robles city government, said he wants to court businesses by helping them understand the permit process and making it easier to wade through the steps in planning.
He’s also looking to promote the community.
“You need to be a cheerleader and someone who listens,” he said. “Someone to tell you that you are going to make it through this.”
Nemeth’s first priority would be to change the attitude of the city, he said, adding that the council should be positive and welcoming to applicants. “We need to quit saying no,” he said of new proposals.
Picanco said he would continue to reach out to local business owners to find ways to educate them on what their neighbors produce and sell so new partnerships can form.
Communication and leader accessibility were also cited by the candidates.
Nemeth would work to host planning workshops on weekends, instead of weeknights, so it’s easier for the public to attend. He would also visit employees in their workplace, he said.
“We need to be there, be out there and be approachable,” he said.
Gibson would like to see the City Council meetings televised. They are now broadcast live on radio station KPRL.
He would also work to build a consensus among the council members, he said, if he were chosen to lead them.
Picanco said he’d continue to visit locals in their workplace and use his background in business ownership to relate to and help merchants.
Reach Tonya Strickland at 781-7858. Stay updated by following @tstrickland on Twitter.