Politics & Government

Eight compete for three seats on Port San Luis Harbor District board

Eight candidates are vying for three seats on the Port San Luis Harbor District Board of Commissioners in the Nov. 6 general election.

The election will result in at least one new commissioner on the board. “After 23 years on the board, Carolyn Moffatt is not running for reelection,” said Steve McGrath, harbor manager.

The other two incumbents — Jim Blecha and Mary Matakovich — are on the ballot. The top three vote-getters will be elected.

The Port San Luis Harbor District is a special district that manages the Port San Luis harbor and the beaches of Avila Beach. More than 70,000 voters in San Luis Obispo and the Fives Cities area are in the district.

According to candidate statements filed with San Luis Obispo County elections officials, the eight running for the district are:

Jim Blecha of Pismo Beach is an incumbent. He is a marine biologist and is running on the strength of his experience. He describes himself as a “commissioner with vision, pragmatism, and a sense of history.”

Mary Matakovich of Avila Beach was appointed to the commission in February to replace Commissioner Jack Scarbrough who had died. She is a retired principal of San Luis Obispo High School and promises to “do whatever it takes to ensure the district’s success.”

Karen Hiatt of Pismo Beach is a retired customs executive. She is also a small boat user in the port and believes “it is important that Port San Luis remains a full-service port that is able to launch all sizes of vessels throughout the year.”

Julian J. Varela of Avila Beach is a health and wellness educator and co-owner of Equilibrium Fitness in San Luis Obispo. He is “committed to finding a balance between future development to improve our economy while helping preserve the access and integrity of our waters, beaches, piers and parks.”

Marquis “Marq” Miller of Arroyo Grande is owner of Avflite Industries and formerly served on the Oceano Community Services District. “One of my goals is to ensure that visitors, fishermen, businesses and residents continue to have an environmentally safe harbor, pier and beach,” he said.

Mark Burnes of Pismo Beach is a real estate broker and is a former Pismo Beach planning commissioner. “I strongly support commercial fishing, strong tourism and marketing, unimpeded access for all, dredging year-round, private and public fundraising,” he said.

Bill Barrow of Pismo Beach and David Kirk of Arroyo Grande are also on the ballot but did not file candidate statements. Both are commercial fishermen.