Election: Morro Bay City Council
Term: Four Years
Number of seats: Two
Candidates: John Headding, pharmacist; CEO of small business in Morro Bay
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Nancy Johnson, incumbent City Council member; small business owner; retired teacher
Matthew W. Makowetski, high school English teacher with Lompoc school district; chairman of Morro Bay Public Works Advisory Board
The Tribune endorses: John Headding and Matt Makowetski
Both men would bring energy, vision and a new perspective to the council. While they would be new to elected office, they have an impressive knowledge of the city and the challenges it faces.
Makowetski, a fourth-generation Morro Bay resident, has served on the Public Works Advisory Board for six years. In addition to teaching, he's a volunteer coach for recreational youth sports team in Morro Bay and is actively involved with Project Surf Camp, a nonprofit that teaches surfing to young people with special needs.
Headding's experience in running businesses — both small and large — give him financial expertise that would be invaluable on the council. Prior to opening Morro Bay Drug and Gift, he was president and CEO of large health organizations, including Merced Community Medical Center, giving him a background not only in business, personnel and management, but also in public health.
Both candidates stress the need for long-term planning: Makowetski points out that the city's General Plan hasn't been updated in 26 years. He also questions the efficiency of a one-year budget, advocating for a two-year budget and five-year overview. We also like his no-nonsense take on the sewer project: "Building on the current site is not an option," he told The Tribune. Agreed.
Of all the candidates for city office, Headding is arguably the most concerned with the city's financial predicament. "Economics are dire," he said, warning that the city is on the verge of having to revert to being a Community Services District. That may be an overstatement, but even so, we believe his cautious approach to spending and his practical business sense would help the city regain its financial footing.
The incumbent, Nancy Johnson, brings knowledge of the city and experience of local government to the table; she was chair of the Planning Commission before being elected to council four years ago. We gave her our strong endorsement in that race. However, we have taken issue with some of her votes on key items. Two examples: We disagreed with her vote to rebuild the sewer plant in the current location, which is in a flood plain and tsunami zone. She also voted against opening up the Morro Bay Aquarium lease to new tenants - something we believe is critical to the revitalization of the city's waterfront area.
Bottom line: Morro Bay has been treading water too long. It's time for the city to move forward with a strong — even aggressive — financial plan. We believe that John Headding and Matthew Makowetski would bring fresh ideas and energy to the council; help heal the divisiveness of the past two years; and keep their eyes on the long-term future. The Tribune strongly endorses Headding and Makowetski for Morro Bay City Council.