Arnold mulling a run in 2012

Debbie Arnold, who came within a few hundred votes of unseating Jim Patterson in the 2008 election for 5th District county supervisor, has been approached to run again in 2012. She did not say who approached her.

Arnold, who works in the San Luis Obispo offices of state Sen. Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo, told The Tribune on Friday that she has not made a commitment to go for the job.

Many North County political observers expected Atascadero Mayor Tom O’Malley to challenge Patterson, but he said last week that family matters have closed that path. That left the door open to Arnold and others.

Arnold, who is from a Pozo ranching family, lost to Patterson by 349 votes the last time around.

The outcome this time, as in previous elections, could determine the county’s approach to growth issues.

Supervisors deal with many matters, including budgets and public safety, where they generally concur on how to govern the county.

On growth issues, however, there has long been strife, sometimes leading to raucous board meetings.

That has manifested itself in the occasional board donnybrook on such issues as a North Coast view protection ordinance that pitted the general public’s right to a clear view of the surrounding hills against a property owner’s right to do as he sees fit with his land.

Behind the clamor is a fundamental belief, held by many, that the county government overregulates, to the detriment of landowners, facing off against an equally fervent belief that the environment needs to be protected.

Patterson has aligned himself with Adam Hill and Bruce Gibson to form a 3-2 majority that tilts toward an environmentalist point of view. Frank Mecham and Paul Teixeira lean more toward property rights.

Should Arnold replace Patterson, and Hill and Mecham win their re-election bids, the board’s collective perspective could change.

Teixeira and Gibson are not up for re-election in 2012.