Just 204 votes separate Marx, Brown in SLO mayor race

Paul Brown, right, talks with supporter John Tessler during Brown's election party at The Kilt in San Luis Obispo.
Paul Brown, right, talks with supporter John Tessler during Brown's election party at The Kilt in San Luis Obispo.

San Luis Obispo mayoral candidate Jan Marx held the lead Tuesday but only a small margin of votes separated her from rival Paul Brown.

Marx, a staunch supporter of sustainability and preserving open space, is known for taking a more cautious approach toward growth and development.

Brown, a former downtown business owner, garnered support from a number of local business owners, including local businesswoman Kristie Molina, owner of the Laguna Village Shopping Center, who spent nearly $12,000 in his support.

Only 204 votes separated the two.

Brown said Tuesday night that he would wait to see what the remaining absentee ballots would bring.

“We just have to wait and see what happens,” said Brown.

The other two mayoral candidates, student Andrew Farrell and artisan Donald Hedrick, trailed far behind at the polls.

Marx’s shift to mayor creates a vacancy on the city council. Applicants for the remaining two-years of her four-year term will be considered by the council. Council members may also nominate individuals for the post. A public hearing will be held in mid-December. The vacancy must be filled by Dec. 31 or a special election will be required to fill the seat.

Incumbent Andrew Carter led the council race consistently through the night – ending with more than 1,500 votes ahead of the other candidates. It appears that former councilmember Kathy Smith will take the other open seat.

However, opponent Dan Carpenter trailed Smith by only 233 votes.

Fewer votes showed in support of the remaining candidates Andrea Miller, Arnold Ruiz and Terry Mohan.

The winners will replace two longtime and somewhat iconic council members who did not seek reelection. Councilman Allen Settle has served for 30 years, including four terms as mayor.

“Going to council meetings for me is like going to church,” said Settle, who spent the night standing in support of Marx.

Mayor Dave Romero, who endorsed Brown, has served on the council for 16 years – eight as mayor and eight as a councilman. Before that he was San Luis Obispo’s public works director for 36 years.