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Pismo mayor won’t run for re-election

Mary Ann Reiss, Pismo Beach’s first elected mayor, announced Tuesday that she will not seek another mayoral term in November.

But Reiss — who has served on the City Council since 1996, six of those years as mayor — said she will run for a council seat.

Three seats are up for re-election Nov. 2: the mayoral seat and two council seats, currently occupied by council members Shelly Higginbotham and Kris Vardas.

The other council members not up for re-election are Ted Ehring and Ed Waage.

Vardas and Higginbotham said Tuesday they both plan to run in November — Vardas for a council seat and Higginbotham for mayor.

The filing period for candidates running in the November election opens July 12 and closes Aug. 6, according to the county Clerk-Recorder. Pismo Beach does not have term limits.

Vardas, 42, is a former city planning commissioner who is serving his first four-year term on the council.

“I think we’ve done a good job the past four years, and I’m looking forward to continuing that tradition,” he said.

Higginbotham has served six years on the council, starting in 2004 when she was appointed to fill a two-year term when Reiss was elected mayor.

Higginbotham, who serves as the council’s mayor pro tem, has filed paperwork with the city stating her intent to run for mayor and is planning a kick-off event July 9.

“It seems like a reasonable step, and I feel as though I’m qualified and would do a good job,” she said. “It would be a privilege to be the mayor of Pismo Beach.”

Higginbotham, 53, said some of her priorities are to keep the city fiscally sound, work with the Army Corps of Engineers on the preservation of the bluffs, and collaborate with other cities and the county on issues from tourism to public safety to make sure the city can provide services in tight economic times.

She also wants to complete a low-income housing project on a city-owned piece of property at 360 Park Ave. The city is now requesting proposals from firms interested in designing, building and managing the project.

Reiss, meanwhile, said a council seat would allow her to continue to serve while giving her time to focus on her work as a real estate agent and spend more time with her husband and nine grandchildren.

“I think we work really well as a council, and there are still things on our list of goals that I would like to see through,” she said.

Reiss, 70, listed numerous accomplishments from her 14 years on the council, including rebuilding the city’s wastewater treatment plant, securing a way to pay for state water, maintaining fiscal stability and building the boardwalk.

She was recently appointed as county Supervisor Katcho Achadjian’s alternate to the California Coastal Commission.

If elected, Reiss said she hopes to address bluff erosion, finish the boardwalk project, see the low-income project on Park Avenue built and even determine what the city could do with the old city hall building on Bello Street.

Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.

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