Arroyo Grande City Councilwoman Caren Ray’s appointment to the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors on Thursday comes just in time for her to cast one of the most crucial votes facing the county in years.
On Tuesday, supervisors will try to break a deadlock on whether to extend an emergency ordinance that prohibits the planting of new vineyards in the Paso Robles groundwater basin without the water they use being offset through conservation elsewhere in the basin.
Earlier this week, the board failed to muster the necessary four votes to pass a measure with Supervisor Debbie Arnold voting “no.” The ordinance expires next Friday and is considered to be a vital component in stabilizing the basin and finding a permanent solution to precipitously declining aquifer levels.
In the past, Ray has publicly supported continuing the moratorium.
Supervisor Adam Hill said he was pleased with Ray’s appointment.
“I’m just hoping that it means that we have the four votes to extend the ordinance as we should have done last Tuesday,” Hill said. “That vote was a step backward.”
Ray did not return several calls for comment on her appointment Thursday afternoon.
Ray must be sworn in by County Clerk Julie Rodewald in order to formally take office. No date for the swearing-in has been announced, said Supervisor Bruce Gibson, who chairs the board.
“It could happen any time now that she’s been formally appointed,” he said. “She is very intelligent, hardworking and collegial, and I look forward to working with her.”
Gov. Jerry Brown Thursday afternoon. Her term runs until the end of next year.
She succeeds Supervisor Paul Teixeira, who died of a heart attack in June. Her 4th District covers the southernmost part of the county and includes Arroyo Grande, Nipomo and Oceano.
Ray, 45, served on the Arroyo Grande City Council since 2010 and has been a modern world history teacher at Santa Maria High School since 2007. She served on the Arroyo Grande Planning Commission from 2005 to 2010 and was owner of the Game Room, a Grover Beach hobby shop, from 2002 to 2006.
She earned a Master of Arts degree in educational leadership from Cal Poly. The governor’s office said the appointment does not require state Senate confirmation and the compensation is $82,014 a year. She is a Democrat.
Hill described her as a “moderate pro-business Democrat who I think will be able to work well with the other members of the board.”
Supervisor Frank Mecham said he does not know Ray but is looking forward to getting to know her.
In addition to the Paso Robles groundwater basin, Ray will have to deal with such thorny issues as water shortages in Nipomo, Los Osos and Cambria as well as the massive Los Osos sewer project, which is in full construction, and a myriad of land-use issues.