Arroyo Grande election with no challengers canceled

Election season is just heating up in San Luis Obispo County, but for one city, the race is already over.

The Arroyo Grande City Council voted Tuesday to cancel its Nov. 6 election and appoint the three candidates — the mayor and two council members — who are all running unopposed for their seats.

Doing so is estimated to save the city $17,000 to $20,000, Deputy City Clerk Kitty Norton said.

The council will remain unchanged for the next two years. Mayor Tony Ferrara will start his sixth two-year term as mayor. He was first elected to the council in 1998 and then ran for mayor in 2002.

The two council seats will continue to be filled by Jim Guthrie, who was first elected to the council in 2004, and Caren Ray, who was appointed in 2010 after Councilman Ed Arnold resigned.

“At this point, we’ve made some great progress, and I’m happy to have been a part of that,” Ferrara said. But, he added, “there’s still work yet to do,” including continuing redevelopment efforts and ensuring a market returns to the downtown Village.

In an unexpected twist, the entire council was prohibited from voting on the item because of concerns from the California Fair Political Practices Commission that allowing council members to vote on their own nomination to the city council could constitute a conflict of interest.

However, if all three members up for re-election to the Arroyo Grande council were prohibited from voting, the council would not have a quorum. So, the FPPC advised Arroyo Grande officials to draw straws to determine which council members could vote, City Manager Steve Adams said.

Ferrara ended up voting; Ray and Guthrie recused themselves. Ferrara and the two council members not up for election, Tim Brown and Joe Costello, voted 3-0 to approve the appointments.

Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.