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Changing of the guard: San Luis Obispo City Council

The newly elected members of the San Luis Obispo City Council were sworn in Wednesday, and two long-time council members bid farewell.

New Mayor Jan Marx and Councilwoman Kathy Smith took the oath of office with Andrew Carter, who was re-elected for another four-year council term. They join Councilman John Ashbaugh, who is serving the third year of his four-year term. He will serve as vice mayor for one year.

Dave Romero and Allen Settle stepped down, taking with them a combined 82 years of institutional knowledge of the city’s inner workings.

Marx’s shift to mayor leaves a vacancy on the council for the remaining two years of her four-year term.

City residents interested in that post have until Dec. 13 to apply. The City Council will appoint an applicant to that seat at a special meeting on Dec. 21.

Several speakers Wednesday encouraged the council to appoint Dan Carpenter to the vacancy. He lost to Smith by only 229 votes.

Carpenter, who intends to seek the post, told the council Wednesday that the narrow separation between him and Smith should make their appointment process “very easy.”

Accolades were also given to outgoing-Mayor Romero and Councilman Settle.

“I cannot think of a more satisfying career — it has been a work of love,” said Romero, who spent 36 years as the city’s public works director and then 16 on the council.

Settle served for 30 years, including four terms as mayor — the longest stretch in city history.

He did not seek re-election because term limits would have forced him to seek the mayoral seat, and Settle said he did not want to split votes with Marx.

Settle, a political science professor at Cal Poly, said he hasn’t ruled out running in the future.

“I have served all of these years because I enjoy doing it,” Settle said. “It is an intellectual challenge, and you can really serve people provide fundamental things that people really want.”

Dave Mullinax, the local representative of the League of California Cities, said Settle is known for his impressive knowledge and ability to grasp the “minutia of the state budget and the local implications.”

Settle served on the league’s revenue and tax committee for 10 years.

“Allen was one of the very few people who was always ready to fight the good fight no matter the odds,” Mullinax said. “He was always ready to ask the relevant, yet often- times uncomfortable questions to our local legislators that others didn’t want to ask.”

Romero credited Settle as his mentor.

“In the very beginning, we were at the opposite side of decisions because I had a different approach to governance,” Romero said. “As the years went by, we became closer and closer in votes — and we became friends.”

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