Carlyn Christianson has been elected to the San Luis Obispo City Council, beating challenger Paul Brown by more than 700 votes at last tally Tuesday night.
Christianson finished the night with 4,138 votes, or 48 percent, and Brown with 3,371 votes, or 39 percent. Donald Hedrick, the third candidate, received 217 votes. He has run unsuccessfully for mayor three times and for council once.
As the results rolled in at City Hall, it was a close race for the first half of the night, with Brown leading by a handful of votes; however, once Christianson took the lead, the gap continued to grow in her favor.
“I am very happy and honored that I was elected,” said Christianson, a former city planning commissioner who is serving her fifth year on the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission. “I believe leaders need to lead and need to make tough decisions.”
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There were about 500 ballots remaining to be counted Tuesday night, but Brown conceded as the final precinct numbers were read by City Clerk Maeve Grimes.
“I ran a strong campaign but definitely would have enjoyed different results,” Brown said.
The City Council has limped through the past four months with only four members, often split 2-2 on many issues. Christianson will be the swing vote on several key issues during her term, including the possible renewal of Measure Y, the city’s half-cent sales tax increase; land use updates to the city’s general plan; and a possible moratorium on additional bars downtown.
“I don’t believe in spending money we don’t have, but I also understand the value of employees and investing in one’s future and infrastructure,” Christianson said.
She had support from the San Luis Obispo County Democratic Party, the firefighters union, Mayor Jan Marx and Councilman John Ashbaugh.
Christianson’s term will end Dec. 1, 2014.
Christianson said Tuesday night that she will step down from her role on the citizen task force revising sections of the city’s general plan and from the county Planning Commission.
The two-year vacancy was created when Andrew Carter stepped down in February to take a full-time job as the city administrator of Guadalupe.
The race for the seat started strong with seven people filing their intention to run for the seat; however, as political pressure grew, the race dwindled to three candidates.
In May, local attorney and council hopeful John Spatafore dropped out, saying he did not want to splinter the race. Spatafore did not endorse any of the remaining candidates, but his political views were closely aligned with Christianson.
A week later, candidate Kevin Rice dropped out of the race, throwing his support behind Brown.
Teacher Jeff Aranguena pulled out of the race early on to attend a graduate program at Cal Poly. He supported fellow democrat Christianson.
Both Spatafore’s and Rice’s names remained on the ballot. They received 459 votes and 502 votes, respectively.
Andrea Miller, owner of Spike’s Pub in downtown San Luis Obispo, filed an intent to run but never pursued a campaign.