‘We can do better’: Morro Bay businessman will challenge Supervisor Bruce Gibson

Jeff Eckles describes himself as “socially liberal, fiscally conservative.”
Jeff Eckles describes himself as “socially liberal, fiscally conservative.”

Saying he wants to return cooperation and civility to the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, a small-business owner and former director of the Home Builders Association will challenge Bruce Gibson in the June 2018 election.

Jeff Eckles, 53, told The Tribune he will file paperwork on Friday for his candidacy to represent the North Coast in District 2.

A third candidate is also considering throwing his hat in the ring: former county supervisor, rancher, and businessman, Steve MacElvaine.

MacElvaine, 73, represented the North Coast on the Board of Supervisors from 1979 to 1983 and served on the California Coastal Commission from 1983 to 1993.

Self-described as “socially liberal, fiscally conservative,” Eckles, who lives in Morro Bay, said he has been a No Party Preference voter for more than a dozen years. He would replace one of two liberal-leaning supervisors who is frequently out-voted by a conservative board majority on an often contentious board.

Campaigning “as a positive, nonpartisan alternative to the divisive environment that exists on the board today,” Eckles said his “first priority is to represent the constituents of the 2nd District, not waste time and energy fighting partisan ideological battles.”

Read his campaign statement here.

It was because of that partisan polarization and lack of collaboration that he said the board missed an opportunity to restructure inclusionary housing fees last month.

“Affordable housing should be funded from broad-based funding mechanisms like the Housing Trust Fund, general funds, GO (general obligation) bonds, or property or sales taxes. They should not be placed upon the backs of new homeowners, making homes more expensive and further out of reach for working class families or potential first-time home buyers in our community,” Eckles said.

A graduate of California State University, Long Beach, he holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration, finance.

For many years, Eckles owned an investment management business before opening a retail shop, Morro Bay House of Jerky, eight years ago.

He became an expert in housing issues, he said, through his job as executive director of the Home Builders Association of the Central Coast for near three years.

He currently serves as treasurer of the Housing Trust Fund of SLO County, which works to increase the supply of affordable housing in the county, and served on the Building, Design, and Construction Cluster of the Economic Vitality Corp. of SLO County.

He has also served as chair of the Morro Bay Harbor Advisory Board and treasurer of the Del Mar Elementary PTA, and he founded the nonprofit Morro Bay Fourth.