In January, for the first time in 12 years, someone other than Katcho Achadjian will represent much of the South County on the Board of Supervisors.
The change will not be wrenching. Both Mike Zimmerman and Paul Teixeira, like Achadjian, sell themselves as conservative, pro-business, anti-regulation candidates, and both promise to carry on his tradition of community involvement.
The differences between the two may lie more in the degree of their conservatism, their business experience, and their individual histories of helping out in their respective communities: Nipomo in Teixeira’s case and Arroyo Grande in Zimmerman’s.
Zimmerman is a bedrock, property-rights conservative who does not believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution or global warming, which he considers cyclical and something that “man doesn’t have that much to do with.”
Teixeira, while he believes in Darwin’s theories, says the jury is out on global warming.
Do those beliefs matter in a run for county supervisor?
To Supervisor Adam Hill they do.
Hill, who is supporting Teixeira, says the board makes policies that can be affected by world views.
“As decision makers, we side with empirical evidence,” Hill says.
One example: Proposition 23, on the Nov. 2 ballot, aims to delay the state’s anti-global warming law, AB 32, which passed in 2006.
The county has moved forward on “green” technologies, including proposed solar power developments on the Carrizo Plain. The county’s actions presuppose the existence of global warming.
Both candidates support Proposition 23, but Teixeira does so because he has spoken with local farmers he says are hurt by AB 32.
Zimmerman agrees with that and dislikes the mandates in the law.
But he takes it further, adding that the global warming phenomenon is being promoted by people seeking to shift research and development money to green technologies.
Zimmerman sees the differences between him and Teixeira more in terms of life experience.
“I own property, Paul doesn’t,” he says. “I am a business owner, Paul isn’t.”
An attorney with a law office, Zimmerman says that, unlike Teixeira, he has met a payroll. Teixeira is operations manager for an industrial technology firm.
Teixeira, on the other hand, contrasts his decades of involvement in the community with what he considers Zimmerman’s shorter résumé.
Teixeira says he has been involved in “a ton of stuff,” including 4-H, FFA, Jack’s Helping Hand, Rotary, Dana Adobe and other groups.
He also sits on the Lucia Mar school board and the county Parks and Recreation Commission, and those experiences, he says, have given him a sense of how government works.
Zimmerman can also cite community involvement, especially with agriculture and his church.
A rancher, he is a longtime project leader for the Huasna 4-H Club and a member of the Junior Livestock Sales Association. He has been a volunteer firefighter.
Teixeira says he worries that Zimmerman, who lives in Arroyo Grande, will not pay enough attention to Nipomo. Zimmerman says that is not the case.
On issues facing the county, Zimmerman and Teixeira are largely in agreement:
Both oppose a homeless shelter being proposed for South Higuera Street in San Luis Obispo because of its cost and size.
They favor a decentralized approach and agree that each community should take care of its homeless population.
Zimmerman and Teixeira agree that the county must institute a two-tier pension system, with new hires getting a less remunerative deal than current employees have already negotiated.
“The unions have negotiated lucrative retirement plans” that need to be more compatible with the private sector, Zimmerman says.
Both agree that the county should live within its means.
Zimmerman says county department heads sometimes spend money they don’t need to in order to keep from receiving a smaller budget allocation in succeeding years.
Both say state and regional organizations have “run amok” in regulating landowners.
They have cited state and regional water and air pollution control boards.
Both support offshore oil drilling, though both oppose drilling in the Huasna Valley.
Both say more study is needed about whether off-road recreation in the Ocean Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area is creating a health hazard on the Nipomo Mesa.
Both say they work well with others. Zimmerman, an attorney for 31 years, says, “I pride myself on getting along with people.”
Teixeira says he has “a track record as a collaborator” on the parks commission and the school board.Achadjian has not endorsed either candidate.
He is leaving the board and is running as the Republican candidate for state Assembly in the 33rd District. His opponents are Democrat Hilda Zacarias and Libertarian Paul Polson.