Arroyo Grande mayor will face an election challenge — from a current councilwoman

Mayor Jim Hill and Councilwoman Caren Ray will compete for the Arroyo Grande mayoral seat in November 2018.
Mayor Jim Hill and Councilwoman Caren Ray will compete for the Arroyo Grande mayoral seat in November 2018.

Arroyo Grande City Councilwoman Caren Ray will run for mayor in November, challenging current Mayor Jim Hill, who plans to seek re-election for his third term.

"I'm running for mayor after tremendous encouragement from a wide variety citizens and elected officials," Ray said in a news release. "Arroyo Grande is an amazing town, but it's in need of effective leadership."

Ray joined the City Council in 2010; she left briefly in 2013 to serve on the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, before she lost the seat to current Fourth District Supervisor Lynn Compton. Ray re-joined the council in 2016 and is halfway through her four-year term.

Ray said she pictures an Arroyo Grande where "the budget is balanced, businesses are growing, public safety is right-sized and fully supported, and water resources are protected."

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"As I’ve served the last two years on City Council, I can see that our city is lacking forward-thinking leadership," she said. "Arroyo Grande is facing significant challenges in the near future that require us to work together to solve complex issues."

Current Councilwoman Kristen Barneich and former Councilman Jim Guthrie both said they will support Ray in her mayoral run.

Mayor Hill confirmed Monday that he plans to seek re-election this November, saying he feels there is still important work to be done, especially at the errant South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District where infighting, investigation (including one into Hill himself) and a revolving door of district administrators have kept board representatives and community members at odds for months.

Hill has served as mayor since he staged a successful write-in campaign in 2014, ousting long-time mayor Tony Ferrara. In 2016, he defeated mayoral candidate Richard Waller by securing 60 percent of the vote.

"I'm pretty proud of the city and the great job the city staff does, but as I'm sure you know, there's still a lot of work do be done at the Sanitation District," he said. "The Sanitation District is the one hope we have to get reasonable recycled water here, and that's one project I would really like to see completed in my time."

"I'm willing to serve as long as the electorate will have me," Hill added.

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928; @kaytyleslie