At a recent event with a taxpayer association, Lynn Compton said she's running for a second term as District 4 supervisor on the same platform as last time: "a smaller, more efficient government, less taxes and more personal freedoms."
Compton, a conservative small-business owner who lives in Nipomo, says she as an advocate for South County small businesses and working families and she points to the recent work the Board of Supervisors has done as to why she should be reelected.
She said she fought to restore parks and recreation funding and brought "three park projects off the ground" in her district after $11 million in fees generated in the district was spent elsewhere; she said she brokered an agreement to relocate a sheriff's substation; and she voted to allocate millions of dollars to improve roads in Nipomo and Oceano.
Compton, 55, was first elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2014 when she upset appointed incumbent Caren Ray. She announced her reelection campaign in June 2017 and is being challenged by Jimmy Paulding.
She said she's running again for the taxpayer, because she wants to be able to retire here, she wants her kids to retire here, "and at the rate we're going in this state, they're not going to be able to."
"I'm doing it because I feel like someone has to stand up to all this insanity," she told a crowd at an event organized by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.
As one of three conservatives in the board majority, she said keeping her in the seat, "is critical if you like the way we're going."
The accomplishments she points to include: maintaining local control while negotiating a state mandate to sustainably manage groundwater, making strides in affordable housing, making significant changes in jail and mental health, preparing for the closure of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, defending Proposition 13, forming a tourism marketing district, lowering crime rates, opposing community choice aggregation and adopting reasonable cannabis regulations.
In response to questions about a board dynamic that is often tense, she said during a candidate forum that she gets along with people who are civil to her and points to the Brown Act that requires public meetings as a reason why things "are dredged out in front of everybody."
"As supervisors, we should all work together, even though we represent different and very diverse regions, to promote our shared visions and values," Compton told The Tribune. "I am willing to work with each and every member on the Board of Supervisors who is willing to promote these shared values that promote our county."
Compton is co-owner of an agricultural supply company based in Santa Maria. She's a mother of two teenage girls, has lived in Nipomo for more than 20 years, and is an active volunteer. She is involved in Rotary Club in Nipomo and the Boys and Girls Club of South San Luis Obispo County, and rescues abused and neglected animals, specifically Persian cats.
Originally from Indiana, she holds a bachelor's degree in agriculture from Purdue University and obtained a law degree from Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law.
The Tribune sent Compton a candidate questionnaire asking her position on key issues facing the county. Here are some of her edited responses:
On the issues
On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the best performance, please rate how well the county is meeting the following challenges:
Compton gave mid-level marks to the county's handling of affordable housing (6), homeless services (6), mental health services, particularly for jail inmates (5) and preparing for the closure of the Diablo Canyon (6).
On affordable housing, Compton stressed the need for workforce housing and said she has supported the allocation of grant funds to local nonprofits for the construction of low and middle income housing projects and to house mental health clients. She said the board has streamlined the process for building secondary units on residential properties, and approved amendments to the Inland Zoning Ordinance to encourage the development of houses that are affordable to working professionals in the county.
"I have voted to reduce impact fees that are a barrier to affordability, and have worked toward having reasonable regulations to enable projects to move forward in an economical manner," Compton said. "If reelected, I will continue to look for innovative ideas to increase the number of affordable homes we produce and for areas in which we can build these given our constraints."
On homelessness, Compton said data show there has been a downward trend in the number of homeless individuals, but there is room for improvement. If reelected, she said she will continue to support programs like the 40 Prado Detox Center and the 50 Now Program, "as long as the results are measurable and positive, as they have been in the past."
On mental health services in the jail, Compton said the county made much-needed changes since the tragic death of Andrew Holland.
Those include the hiring of a chief medical officer, the adoption of the Stepping Up initiative, and the contracting of an independent evaluation of jail medical and mental health services, which recommended the need for oversight and outsourcing of health care services.
"I don’t believe these changes are going to solve every crisis involving inmates with mental health issues. I believe these changes will make the situation better for those inmates and for their families who, no doubt, love them," Compton said. "If reelected, I will continue to advocate for positive changes that minimize the risks to these inmates and that facilitate the path to better mental health for this population of individuals."
To prepare for the nearly $1 billion-a-year economic impacted expected from the closure of Diablo Canyon, Compton said there should be a shift at the facility to meet local energy needs and that she will support renewable energy projects as they come forward.
She said it will take a collaboration between the public and private sectors to develop strategies to mitigate the revenue loss; she will be involved in the process as a member of the Economy Vitality Corp. She also voted to establish a Tourism Marketing District that raises about $3 million a year to promote hotels in the county.
Compton gave the county high marks (8) for budget management, including financing of employee pensions, and said she wants to pay down county pension debt as quickly as possible.
She did not rate the county's performance on air-quality violations on the Nipomo Mesa, but did say, "we need to look at different options to revegetate the front dunes," and that she is "open to evaluating other options for decreasing emissions, such as designating a different entrance. She said she's encouraged by the new ways to collect timely data, adding that all sides need to work together and should be transparent to promote trust.
As for offshore oil or increased onshore oil production, Compton said plainly: "I am opposed to drilling for oil off our coast."
As for onshore, she said while no one disagrees with the need to transition to more renewable sources of energy, "until that time arrives when it is fully feasible, we are left with the choice of using what we minimally produce here, domestically, with the strictest environmental standards."
Compton's endorsements include public safety agencies, community organizations, current and former supervisors and dozens of local businesses owners.
Some of those are Arroyo Grande Police Officers Association, San Luis Obispo chapter Cal FIRE, Sworn Deputy Sheriff's Association, Nipomo Chamber of Commerce, Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, presidents of the Pismo Coast Association of Realtors Mark Burnes, current supervisors Debbie Arnold and John Peschong, former supervisors Frank Mecham and Katcho Achadjian, president of the Central Coast Taxpayers Association Andrea Seastrand, Pismo Beach Mayor Ed Waage, county Assessor Tom Bordonaro, Oceano Advisory Council member Linda Austin, Arroyo Grande Councilwoman Barbara Harmon, Paso Robles Councilman Jim Reed and Atascadero Councilwoman Roberta Fonzi.
Since July 2017, Compton's campaign has received $221,000 in contributions as of May 9. She had about $59,000 in the bank at the end of April, according to a recent campaign disclosure statement.
Top donors this year include John Avina of Abraxas Energy Consulting in Santa Margarita ($2,000), Lincoln Club of San Luis Obispo County ($2,500), Norgrove Gardens in Marina Del Rey with locations in Arroyo Grande ($2,000), Joseph Rouleau of San Luis Obispo ($2,100), Teixeira Farms of Santa Maria ($5,000), Robert McCarthy of Austin, Texas, and a SLO County property owner ($2,500), Robert Schiebelhut of Tolosa Winerty and Vineyards in San Luis Obispo ($2,500), David Sansone of Sansone Co. in San Luis Obispo ($2,000), Barbara Baggett of Baggett Capitol LLC in San Luis Obispo ($2,500), Paragon Vineyard in San Luis Obispo ($5,000), De Blauw Properties of Arroyo Grande ($2,000), Robert Schiebelhut of Tolosa Winery ($2,500), and Robin Baggett of Tolosa and Alpha Omega wineries ($2,500).