Reviving the local economy, partnering with colleges to expand city services and the November ballot measure to halt the Prado Road extension led the discussion Thursday night among the 10 candidates vying for three seats on the San Luis Obispo City Council.
The League of Women Voters moderated the two-hour forum at City Hall. Two dozen people attended.
Three of the city’s five council seats are up for re-election in November: the mayoral seat held by Dave Romero and two four-year seats held by Councilmen Allen Settle and Andrew Carter. Four candidates are vying for mayor, and six for a council seat.
The four mayoral candidates — Paul Brown, Councilwoman Jan Howell Marx, Donald Hedrick and Andrew Farrell — agree that the city needs stronger partnerships with Cal Poly and Cuesta College but differ on the goals they would like to achieve.
Marx said she supports ongoing discussion between the city and Cal Poly administrators to create an “incubation situation” that would allow students to start their business ventures locally.
Farrell, a Cal Poly student who will graduate in December, said he would like to see more internships available for students.
All of the mayoral candidates except Hedrick say they are against Measure H — the initiative that would prevent the city from extending Prado Road to Broad Street.
Of the six candidates for council seats — Dan Carpenter, Councilman Andrew Carter, Andrea Miller, Terry Mohan, Arnold Ruiz and Kathy Smith — only Mohan said he was in favor of the initiative.
Mohan, a truck driver and vocal critic of the City Council, said that he is against the northern alignment of Prado Road, arguing that it would create more congestion on Broad Street.
Miller, owner of Spike’s Pub downtown, said that the measure is an example of how “every once in awhile voter initiatives can be dangerous.”
Ideas for reviving the local economy included preserving the quality of life, recruiting more home-based businesses, assisting existing businesses and using city staff to actively attract new businesses to the area.
Smith, a former councilmember and former owner of Garden Street Inn, said that she would like the city’s economic development manager — a position she says she helped create in the mid-1990s — to focus more on business recruitment to the area.
Other issues discussed included binding arbitration and pension reform.
Of the 10 candidates, only Carter said he would be willing to lead the crafting of an ordinance that would revoke the mandatory binding arbitration process for police and firefighter contract disputes.
That process, triggered if the city and unions can’t agree on contract terms, awarded sizeable raises to police in 2008. Because the system was approved by voters, only another ballot measure could remove it.
The remaining candidates all said they would like the incentive to change the decision to come from the public in the form of an initiative. Carter said he felt that the council needed to take the lead.
Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.