Election Day 2014 is history. Finally, we can say goodbye to the robocalls, the glossy mailers, the dueling campaign signs and — let’s hope — the acrimony of this political season.
We offer our congratulations to the winners, our condolences to the losers and our empathy to those whose races are still too close to call (more on that later).
Here, in no particular order, are our post-election observations:
Most inspirational result: Voters of San Luis Obispo County opened their hearts and their wallets, and it will pay off for decades to come. Six out of seven tax measures on the ballot were approved, and the seventh one — a Grover Beach bond measure for road improvements — could still come out on top as more ballots are counted. We’re especially impressed that voters around the county passed a $275 million bond for Cuesta College by nearly 62 percent — a strong vote of confidence in the college.
Most alarming local campaign trend: Too many gimmicky signs and too few public forums.
Biggest mandate for change: Pismo Beach. Voters overwhelmingly passed Measure H, which will give them more of a say over future development of Price Canyon; they also ousted at least one incumbent and may have elected a new mayor, but that race is too close to call.
Biggest head-scratcher: Atascadero City Council race. Voters stuck with their mayor and two City Council members, even after learning the city is potentially on the hook for millions of dollars in unanticipated costs for road improvements associated with the Wal-Mart project.
Common-sense award: Morro Bay voters. They wisely decided they don’t need to hold a primary election for mayor and council.
Déjà vu medals: Grover Beach Mayor-elect John Shoals and Los Osos Community Services District Director-elect Chuck Cesena.
Public official to watch: Frank Mecham. With conservative Lynn Compton succeeding Caren Ray on the Board of Supervisors for the 4th District, will Frank Mecham follow in the footsteps of Katcho Achadjian (particularly in his early years on the board) by becoming the new man in the middle?
Biggest near-upset: Rep. Lois Capps was almost unseated by Republican candidate Chris Mitchum, who has practically no political experience and is perhaps best known for his famous father, the late actor Robert Mitchum. If Capps runs again in 2016, she should rethink the negative campaigning; it was a huge turn-off even for some Democrats.
Biggest near-upset, second place: Arroyo Grande Mayor Tony Ferrara barely held off a challenge from write-in candidate Jim Hill, who rode a wave of discontent in Arroyo Grande. Keep in mind, Ferrara’s win isn’t 100 percent certain — we still don’t have a final tally.
Biggest (potential) heartbreak: Grover Beach’s Measure K. The $48 million bond measure to raise money to fix the city’s ailing roads was supported by a healthy margin — 66.3 percent — as of late Tuesday. But unless it reaches the magic two-thirds supermajority, it fails. We’re crossing our fingers; there’s still a chance that uncounted ballots could put it over the top. Most suspenseful cliffhanger: A three-way tie. Here’s where things stood late Tuesday night:
Seven votes separated Duane Picanco from Jim Reed in the Paso Robles City Council election.
In Pismo Beach, Mayor Shelly Higginbotham was leading challenger Kevin Kreowski by just 15 votes.
Also in Pismo, candidates Marcia Guthrie and Mary Ann Reiss were tied with 1,084 votes each
Huge debt of gratitude: To Julie Rodewald, outgoing county clerk-recorder.
Morning-after award: Joe Costello. The Arroyo Grande city councilman, who lost his seat to challenger Barbara Harmon, was already out early Wednesday morning, taking down his campaign signs. Good for you, Joe. The sooner we’re done with reminders of this election, the better. Are you listening, other candidates?