Democratic Party has no SLO mayoral choice

The San Luis Obispo City Council race will move forward without the Democratic Party’s endorsement for mayor despite both key candidates being affiliated with the political party.

Incumbent Mayor Jan Marx has been endorsed by the San Luis Obispo Democratic Party in past elections. However, the fallout of a contentious battle between the city and its public safety unions over the repeal of binding arbitration led some committee members to question her support of collective bargaining and unions.

First-time contender and architect Steve Barasch also sought the endorsement, but did not receive it.

Marx got support of the majority of the 33-member committee that votes on the endorsements, but not the two-thirds vote needed.

“She has the strong personal support of a number of Democrats, just not the committee as a whole,” said Pat Harris, chairman of the San Luis Obispo Democratic Central Committee, who has personally endorsed Marx.

Both candidates say that while the endorsement would have been welcomed, they don’t think it will damage their campaign to not receive it.Marx said critics who allege she does not support unions are wrong.

“I have been really clear ever since binding arbitration came up in 2000,” Marx said. “For 12 years, I have been saying that I support collective bargaining and employee unions, but I am against binding arbitration.”

Barasch, a vocal critic of city spending and a member of the San Luis Obispo Property and Business Owners’ Association, did not receive the support of the subcommittee making recommendations on the two candidates.

“They decided not to endorse me, which was an internal decision,” Barasch said. “They came to a conclusion and I will live with it.”

Donald Hedrick, who ran unsuccessfully for City Council twice before and for mayor once, is again seeking the mayoral seat.

In July, Councilman Andrew Carter withdrew from the mayoral race, citing personal and financial reasons.

Two council seats are also open in November. The San Luis Obispo County Democratic Party endorsed John Ashbaugh and Jeff Aranguena for those seats.