At their first public forum on Tuesday, all but three of the eight candidates for San Luis Obispo City Council supported continuing the half-percent sales tax for another eight years.
That issue and others were the topic of discussion at the event hosted by the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce at the San Luis Obispo City-County Library. It was attended by about 40 people.
Three candidates — incumbent Jan Marx, Donald Hedrick and Jeffrey Specht — are vying for the mayoral seat.
Five candidates are seeking two council seats, including Daniel Cano, incumbent Carlyn Christianson, Mike Clark, Gordon Mullin and Dan Rivoire. Each of the candidates were asked to address issues on the Nov. 4 ballot, such as the half-percent sales tax (Measure G), workforce housing and their stance on providing more head-of-household jobs.
Only Clark, Hedrick and Specht opposed the passage of Measure G, which would continue the existing half-percent city sales tax if approved by voters in November. Marx, who will hold the longest female tenure as mayor in the city’s history if she wins this election, said that eliminating wasteful spending is essential but that growing the city’s budget is a good thing.
“It is OK if we have money and spend it well,” said Marx. “That is how we make progress.” Cano said there is a fine balance between making cuts and making investments and that he would prefer to focus on making good investments.
“When a focus is on cuts, it is the beginning of the end,” Cano said.
Candidates agreed that a focus on adding head-of-household jobs and providing more workforce housing for those employees should be a priority.
Mullin said that added pressure needed to be put on Cal Poly to house more students on campus beyond plans to build a new dorm complex along Grand Avenue, freeing up existing homes that are now rented by students.
Rivoire said that talking with local businesses about the barriers and issues they face now would allow the city to provide the tools they need to grow and provide more jobs. More office space and more housing is needed to allow those businesses to grow, he said.
Candidates were also asked what advice they would give to Cal Poly to help lessen town-gown issues such as neighborhood tensions as the college prepares to grow its enrollment. Clark said more student housing on campus is needed to relieve the tension in neighborhoods.
“When students are occupying housing, workforce housing is taken up,” said Clark. “It is a long-term problem and it will take a lot of cooperation. … The biggest driver will be building more housing on campus.”
Christianson said that Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong is making a good effort to be more engaged with the community than it has in the past. She said that the university should include the San Luis Obispo community “early and often in updating (the college’s) master plan.”
“I think the president of Cal Poly should probably put a leash on some of these kids and give residents of San Luis Obispo a break,” said Specht. Hedrick said that Cal Poly is a good partner in the community but needs to do more to address neighborhood conflicts.
Next SLO candidate forum
The League of Women Voters of San Luis Obispo County will moderate a candidate forum Thursday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the San Luis Obispo City Council Chambers, 990 Palm St.