Grover Beach appoints new councilwoman — who’s never been to a council meeting before

New Grover Beach City Councilwoman Desire “Desi” Lance was appointed on January 7, 2019
New Grover Beach City Councilwoman Desire “Desi” Lance was appointed on January 7, 2019

For her first-ever Grover Beach City Council meeting, Desire “Desi” Lance sure did have an exciting time.

On Monday, the council selected Lance, 31, — a self-employed contract immigration attorney— to take over the seat vacated when Mayor Jeff Lee was elected to the city’s helm partway through his four-year term as a councilman.

“I applied to serve on the council because I hoped to be a facilitator of change in my community,” Lance said in an email to The Tribune on Thursday following her appointment. “I look forward to engaging with and representing Grover Beach as best as I can.”

Lance passed 12 other candidates Monday night to win the seat, including former councilwoman Karen Bright and retired IRS revenue officer Terri Wingate, who unsuccessfully ran for election to the council in 2016. Robert Robert, who ran for election to the city council in November 2018 but was defeated by incumbents Mariam Shah and Barbara Nicolls, also applied.

Shah on Monday said she thought the open seat was “a chance for a new person, a new demographic of person, to get to do this.”

Shah made the motion nominating Lance as the new member.

Lance is a recent transplant to Grover Beach. She was raised in San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles, and later lived in Chicago and London with her husband and young son.

During her interview Monday, Lance said her main reason for wanting to be on the council was her love of the community.

“We’ve really found a home here,” she told the council. “I am motivated on a number of a ways. You know from a personal standpoint, being a homeowner and raising my family here and seeing this as a long-term residence, I obviously want to see Grover Beach be the best version of itself.

“On the other hand, as a lawyer, I have a strong desire for public advocacy and community representation and service. I think those coupled together provide me with the motivation to want to serve on the council.“

On her application, Lance noted she had not ever been to a Grover Beach City Council meeting prior to applying to join the council.

Ultimately, Lance was one of the three top contenders for the seats, including Bright and Wingate.

Lee, Shah and Nicolls all voted for Lance to be the appointee. Only Councilwoman Debbie Peterson dissented, saying she hoped to bring in a council member with a more institutional knowledge of the city, as well as more representation from other parts of Grover Beach.

“I will look forward to working with her,” Peterson said of Lance after her “no” vote.

Now Lance says she is “eager to immerse myself in the new role.”

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Kaytlyn Leslie writes about business and development for The Tribune. Hailing from Nipomo, she also covers city governments and happenings in the South County region, including Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach and Grover Beach. She joined The Tribune in 2013 after graduating from Cal Poly with her journalism degree.