Protest, not change, marks council race

The politics of the San Luis Obispo City Council won’t change much regardless of which of the three applicants is appointed next week to the council’s open seat.

There has been much public protest about the appointment process, and one of the main opponents is campaigning solely to mock that process.

But, in the end, it is unlikely that either of the two serious candidates would drastically change the council’s balance of power because a majority already votes cohesively.

The empty seat has been vacant since Jan Marx left her council seat to become mayor.

Applicants Dan Carpenter and Patricia Andreen both say they will support growth on a case-by-case basis and plan to carefully scrutinize spending.

Both have dedicated years of service on various advisory boards and community organizations, including Carpenter’s current role as chairman of the San Luis Obispo Cultural Heritage Committee and Andreen’s six years as a trustee on the San Luis Coastal Unified School District’s school board.

The third applicant, Kevin P. Rice, said he is running solely to protest the appointment process — saying an election should have been held.

“If I seriously wanted to be on the council, I would want to be elected,” Rice said. “I am speaking out for the voters.”

The way Marx’s seat is being filled has been criticized. Some critics allege the council is circumventing the election process, while acknowledging the more than $60,000 price of a special election.

Some community members as well as other candidates in the November race said Carpenter should be selected because he placed third in the election. Carpenter lost by a narrow margin to Councilwoman Kathy Smith.

Carpenter is known for his role in creating the city’s new Historic Preservation Ordinance.

The ordinance met opposition from property owners who felt their property rights were jeopardized by the new rules.

The City Council made drastic changes to the ordinance, including the elimination of a proposed penalty, before voting in favor of it.

“It wasn’t that the committee was trying to ignore the voice of the people,” Carpenter said. “We really didn’t anticipate the pushback ”

Andreen served on the San Luis Coastal Unified School District for five years. During her term, the board oversaw dramatic cuts and school closings in the district.

She left the school board to run unsuccessfully for the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors in November 2004, losing by 2 percentage points to Jerry Lenthall. She was then appointed to the San Luis Coastal board in June 2005 to fill a vacancy. She held that post for one year.

Andreen said she didn’t run for the City Council in November because she was focused on aiding other campaigns, such as sheriff, school board, city and state races.

“Toward the end of the campaign, I realized how much I missed being involved in public life,” Andreen said. She said former Councilman Allen Settle encouraged her to apply.

The City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall to appoint one of the applicants.

Each applicant will have five minutes to speak, and then the council members will vote publicly on their nominations until a consensus is reached.

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.