Morro Bay City Council incumbent Nancy Johnson concedes election to John Headding

Nancy Johnson
Nancy Johnson jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Nancy Johnson, who has been on the Morro Bay City Council for nearly four years, has conceded this year’s election to newcomer John Headding — a move intended to save the city additional expense, she said Sunday.

She said she will turn in her official paperwork to Mayor Jamie Irons on Monday.

Johnson received 36 percent of the vote June 3, but Headding fell just short of a required majority. Results of the election haven’t been clear because the city has been unsure how to deal with 123 ballots that had no candidates marked for City Council.

The interim city attorney is researching case law and reviewing how other cities have handled the same issue.

If the ballots weren’t counted, Headding would be declared the winner; if they were counted, he would be just short of the necessary number of votes, and the two would head to a runoff Nov. 4.

“Knowing the dire financial situation and the deviousness in our local politics, I feel putting the community through the costs associated with recalculating votes in this election and an unnecessary run-off in November would add to ongoing challenges,’’ Johnson wrote in an email announcing her decision.

Asked to explain her phrase, “deviousness in our local politics,’’ Johnson referenced a political machine that helped elect the current council majority and said she’s tired of being on the losing end of many 3-2 council votes.

“I really don’t want to do that anymore,’’ she said. “I’m going to go off and enjoy life” after finishing her term late this year.

Johnson thanked her friends and those who have supported her through the years, saying it has been her pleasure to serve the citizens of Morro Bay.

Headding could not be reached to comment Sunday.

Irons, who was unaware of Johnson’s decision to concede, said Sunday that he’s glad the community won’t have to face a runoff between Johnson and Headding in November, “and we can move on.”

He called Johnson’s decision to concede thoughtful, saving the city both time and expense.

Headding, president-elect of the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce and a former Central Valley hospital chief executive officer, told The Tribune on June 4 that if elected, he planned to assess every decision he makes based on the potential return on investment for the city because he believes Morro Bay is in a dire financial bind.

He said then his ideas include filling economic gaps (such as more affordable housing and a shoe store for Morro Bay); marketing to tourists with more disposable income to drive sales and bed taxes; ensuring that enterprise funds such as water, sewer, harbor and transit are self-supporting; and looking to outsource some city services.

“We have to strengthen the overall balance sheet and financial status of Morro Bay,” Headding said then. “Every decision has to be filtered through impact on the economy for Morro Bay and return on investment.”

The other contested council seat June 3 was easily won by newcomer Matt Makowetski, with 61 percent of the vote. Irons was reelected mayor.