Politics & Government

Who's running for mayor, city council around SLO County

The list of contenders for city council races throughout San Luis Obispo County is now set for the Nov. 4 election. Now it’s up to voters to decide who they want governing their communities.

Finalizing the list was a two-step process. In cities where city council and mayoral incumbents decided to run for re-election, candidates had to file candidacy papers by last Friday. But the deadline was extended to Wednesday for four races in Grover Beach, Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo because incumbents did not file for re-election or were termed out.

As it turns out, the extra time prompted only one person to file for a council seat in San Luis Obispo’s race. And in a couple of cases, the races have essentially been decided.

Here’s a look at who’s running for mayor and city council around the county:

Arroyo Grande

Mayor Tony Ferrara, first elected to the council in 1998, is running unopposed.

The candidates for two council seats are incumbents Joe Costello and Tim Brown, and challenger Barbara Harmon, who was appointed by Ferrara to the city's Architectural Review Committee in December 2013.


Charles Scovell, a certified arborist, and incumbent Tom O’Malley are running for mayor.

There are four contenders for two council seats: Planning Commissioner Len Colamarino, former Planning Commissioner Chuck Ward, Mayor Pro Tem Brian Sturtevant and Councilwoman Heather Moreno.

Grover Beach

Mayoral candidates are incumbent Debbie Peterson and former mayor John Shoals.

Two residents are running for two council seats, which means the council election is essentially settled: Mariam Shah, who was involved in a volunteer citizens committee that studied a charter ballot measure last year; and Barbara Nicolls, a Grover Beach Community Library Board member. Nicolls is the wife of Councilman Bill Nicolls, who is termed out from running for a council seat.

Councilman Glenn Marshall decided not to run for re-election.

Morro Bay

Morro Bay’s mayoral and City Council races were decided in June. Jamie Irons was re-elected mayor, and newcomers John Headding and Matt Makowetski were chosen for the council. They will be sworn in at the end of the year.

Paso Robles

Councilman Steve Martin is running unopposed for mayor, since the incumbent has decided to run for a City Council seat. That means that Martin will be the next mayor. Since Martin is in the middle of his four-year term on the council, the newly seated council will have to decide whether to appoint a replacement for his council seat or hold a special election.

Whoever is chosen would serve the remaining two years of Martin’s term.

There are five people running for two council seats: Mayor Duane Picanco and Councilman John Hamon, Planning Commissioner Steve Gregory, draftsman Jim Reed and Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Director Pam Avila.

Councilman Ed Steinbeck announced last month that he will not seek re-election.

Pismo Beach

Mayoral candidates are incumbent Shelly Higginbotham, who joined the council in 2004, and Kevin Kreowski, a business owner and former agent with the U.S. Border Patrol who ran for a council seat in 2012.

Four people are running for two council seats: incumbents Mary Ann Reiss and Kris Vardas, as well as Sheila Blake, a retired airline supervisor, and Marcia Guthrie, a real estate agent.

Blake and Guthrie are both members of Save Price Canyon, a group formed to protect and preserve the scenic area east of the city. Blake also ran for the council in 2012.

San Luis Obispo

Mayoral candidates are incumbent Jan Marx, who has served 10 years on the council, Donald Hedrick and Jeffery Specht.

Hedrick is a community activist who has run unsuccessfully for the City Council four times in the past seven years, and Specht has been critical of the city’s management.

Five people are running for two open council seats, which have four-year terms. Incumbent Kathy Smith is not running to retain the seat she has held since 2010.

Incumbent Carlyn Christianson is running for re-election, along with Gordon Mullin, a financial planner; Dan Rivoire, executive director of the San Luis Obispo County Bicycle Coalition; Mike Clark, a retired Army colonel with 29 years of service; and Daniel Cano, executive director of The LINK, a nonprofit that works with schools and countywide public agencies to deliver assistance programs.

Cano had filed papers last week to run against Marx for mayor, but failed to gather the required number of signatures of verified voters.

He did gather enough signatures to run for a council seat, City Clerk Anthony J. Mejia said Wednesday.

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