Marking a shift in the balance of power on the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, challenger Lynn Compton has upset appointed incumbent Caren Ray in the hotly contested District 4 race.
With all precincts reporting, Compton captured 53.46 percent of the vote compared to Ray’s 46.32 percent. Compton was watching the returns come in with a large group of supporters in Arroyo Grande.
“I’m pleased with the way things are going,” she said.
Ray was not available for comment.
Compton’s election ends a race that has lasted for more than a year and attracted a record amount of campaign contributions. It featured Ray, a Democrat, against businesswoman Compton, a Republican.
Ray is often the swing vote on the Board of Supervisors between conservatives Frank Mecham and Debbie Arnold and progressives Bruce Gibson and Adam Hill. Compton’s election shifts the balance of power on the board to a conservative three-vote majority.
Ray, a teacher and former Arroyo Grande City Council member, was appointed a year ago by Gov. Jerry Brown to serve out the term of Supervisor Paul Teixeira who died in office. Ray was hoping voters in the conservative-leaning district would give her a full four years in office based on her governmental experience and ability to bring balance to the Board of Supervisors.
Compton of Nipomo is co-owner with her husband of Valley Farm Supply in Santa Maria. She ran on a platform of protecting property rights and agriculture and creating jobs.
The two candidates clashed on several issues. Compton accused Ray of voting in favor of too much government regulations, which she said hurts small-business owners and economic growth.
Ray said she has adopted a balanced approach to government regulations that is intended to prevent the district from becoming overdeveloped like Bakersfield in Kern County.
An indication of the importance of the race is the large amounts of money it has attracted. It has been the most expensive supervisorial race in county history. Compton raised more than $420,000 while Ray raised more than $278,000.
Much of Compton’s financial support came from the Republican Party and agricultural interests while Ray’s support came mainly from labor unions and developers.
The District 4 supervisor district includes Arroyo Grande, Nipomo and Oceano.