Politics & Government

Frank Mecham won't seek re-election; Debbie Peterson to take on Adam Hill

Supervisor Frank Mecham at a Nov. 26, 2013, hearing on the county's emergency ordinance enacted to protect the Paso Robles groundwater basin.
Supervisor Frank Mecham at a Nov. 26, 2013, hearing on the county's emergency ordinance enacted to protect the Paso Robles groundwater basin. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

The 2016 elections are already beginning to take shape.

San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Frank Mecham announced Tuesday that he will not seek re-election to his 1st District seat. On the same day, former Grover Beach Mayor Debbie Peterson announced that she will run for the 3rd District county supervisor seat currently held by Adam Hill. San Luis Obispo City Councilman Dan Carpenter said he is also considering challenging Hill.

Hill has already announced that he will seek re-election. Hill’s district includes much of San Luis Obispo and the Five Cities area.

On the state level, Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, R-San Luis Obispo, has taken out papers to run for California State Senate, according to the county Clerk-Recorder’s Office. He has reached his term limit for his Assembly seat. The Senate seat is currently held by Bill Monning, a Democrat from Carmel.

Heidi Harmon has taken out papers to run for the California State Assembly. She unsuccessfully challenged Achadjian for his Assembly seat in 2014.

In San Luis Obispo County, Mecham represents a large district that encompasses much of the North County including Paso Robles. In a short news release, Mecham said he decided to make his announcement early. He did not say why he is not seeking re-election and was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

“I am declaring this now to allow ample time for those that wish to seek this position the opportunity to mount a campaign to do so,” he said.

Mecham is in his second four-year term. He ran unopposed for re-election in 2012.

During his second term, Mecham has had to deal with a severe crisis in the Paso Robles groundwater basin, which has seen the aquifer drop 70 feet in recent decades. Mecham cast several key votes to start the process of forming a water management district for the basin.

Peterson said she will seek pension reform and protect property rights, if elected. She also said she does not support further development in Price Canyon, Wild Cherry Canyon and the Nipomo Mesa unless sufficient water supplies can be guaranteed.

She also said she would take a more collaborative approach than Hill.

“The board will be more effective in serving the community when supervisors address one another and the community with respect and embrace spirited discourse to reach solutions,” she said.

Hill said he will run on his record of success in land conservation and promoting economic development. During Hill’s tenure, a deal was struck to conserve the 900-acre Pismo Preserve.

Carpenter said Tuesday that he hopes to make a final decision by the end of the month on whether to challenge Hill.

“Two terms of Adam Hill is enough,” he said. “It’s time for new ideas, and it’s time for somebody else to step into that job.”

In addition to Hill, Supervisor Debbie Arnold has a re-election campaign.

Former state Assemblyman and Sen. Sam Blakeslee, a San Luis Obispo Republican, said he has no plans to run for any office in 2016.