Q&A: Four questions for Bruce Gibson
Q. The county is facing its third consecutive year of a budget deficit — an estimated $19 million in the coming fiscal year. Where can you cut? What are your priorities? Is there a way to corral pension costs?
A. Since the county provides a wide range of essential services, budget cuts will be spread strategically over all departments. Public safety will see significantly fewer reductions, since those services are our top priority. The board tracks numerous performance measures, and departments have been directed to first cut programs that would have the least impact on our residents. I continue to seek greater efficiency within and among departments. We have been working with our unions to have employees pick up a greater share of their pension contribution, and we will soon negotiate a second-tier pension plan for new hires.
Q. What would you do to protect against crime? Do you consider gangs a problem? How would you improve relationships, which have seemed strained, with the sheriff?
A. Crime in general, and gangs specifically, are best addressed through coordinated efforts at prevention, enforcement and rehabilitation. The county’s Anti-Gang Coordinating Commission is a model for addressing our isolated, but locally serious, gang problems by:
1. Working with parents and community groups to keep youth out of gangs;
2. Providing strategic resources to arrest and prosecute gang members; and
3. Developing programs to keep paroled gang members from re-offending.
I believe that better communication between the board, our administrative office and the sheriff has already improved relations somewhat. I will work to continue that trend with the new sheriff.
Q. Are you satisfied with the progress to date? Should the Board of Supervisors be doing anything differently?
A. Since the county took over the project in 2007, a well-crafted approach has produced remarkable progress. We have conducted an unprecedented public process that included full public review of engineering, environmental and financial issues by our Technical Advisory Committee, as well as town hall meetings, community questionnaires and direct informational mailings. The project was extensively considered by our Planning Commission and by the board (over 50 times, generating over 1,000 public comments).'
We have completed applications for some $80 million in funding (thanks to our congressional representatives), and will soon have a final permit hearing at the Coastal Commission.
Q. Do you consider pollution on the Nipomo Mesa a problem? Should motorized vehicles be banned from the Oceano Dunes, or limited? If they were banned, do you believe a new, reliable source of tourist income could emerge?
A. Yes, when particulate matter in the air over the Mesa exceeds state and federal standards — that is a problem. Particulate pollution poses health risks that cannot be ignored.
Since the recent APCD study conclusively shows that motorized activities on the Dunes contribute to elevated particulate levels, I expect State Parks to work cooperatively to mitigate the problem. Some experts believe there are possible sand stabilization techniques short of an outright ban on riding.
Since the Dunes are an incomparable natural landmark in our county, I believe that eco-tourism there could provide a significant economic base for the area.
Information from official voter's guide
For the past four years, I’ve been honored to serve you as District 2 County Supervisor.
I’ve worked hard to preserve our incomparable coastal resources and bring responsive government to our county. I pledged to be fair, respectful and openminded, and I believe I have been. I’m honored to ask for your vote.
During my earlier service with land trusts and advisory councils, I’m proud to have helped preserve more than 20 miles of our extraordinary coastline. I’ve been honored to accept the County Environmental Achievement Award twice – on behalf of the Land Conservancy of SLO County and Hearst Ranch Conservation NOW.
For more than 20 years, I’ve operated the county’s oldest commercial orange grove near Cayucos. I came to agriculture after a first career as a research seismologist. My education includes an undergraduate degree from Pomona College, a master’s from the University of Hawaii, and a doctorate from Rice University.
My first term as Supervisor has taught me much about public service. I’ll apply this knowledge and experience to our continuing effort to protect the precious resources of this special place and plan a brighter future.