Elections

Morro Bay City Council member announces bid for mayor

Morro Bay City Council member John Headding has announced his intent to run for mayor in the November 2018.
Morro Bay City Council member John Headding has announced his intent to run for mayor in the November 2018. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

As his first term in office on the Morro Bay City Council comes to an end, John Headding is planning his next move: running for mayor.

Headding filed his candidate intention statement July 6, according to the city clerk’s office. That means he’s free to fundraise ahead of the city’s candidate filing period, which starts July 16.

Headding, a pharmacist and CEO of Morro Bay Drug and Gift, said his experience serving on the council is supplemented by a skill set that includes “strategy and operating from a standpoint of the 20,000-foot level.”

“I just felt that my skill set could be advantageous as mayor moving forward,” he said.

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Headding called the completion of the proposed water reclamation facility to replace the city’s aging wastewater treatment plant, one of the city’s most important priorities. Morro Bay residents have until Aug. 28 to protest a planned $41 water/sewer monthly surcharge that would pay for the new treatment plant.

Beyond that, he said the city needs to “diversify our portfolio” by pursuing supplements to its tourism income. Transient occupancy (hotel) tax, property tax and sales tax make up the majority of the city’s general fund.

“We’re a single-economy city,” he said. “We’re basically based on tourism.”

To give the city more stable footing in the face of potential economic hardship, Headding said he wants to see the city focus on “catalyst sites” that he believes could spur economic growth.

He listed the city’s Market Plaza re-development project, currently out to bid, as one such avenue — saying it could potentially provide a venue for a convention center.

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Headding said the Morro Bay Power Plant, which closed in 2014, represents another possibility. The major stumbling block to redeveloping that site is the $100 million cleanup that’s required first, he said.

Headding said he has spoken with Congressional representatives “about getting some earmarks for getting this place cleaned up.”

The mayoral candidate hopes to see the city of Morro Bay pursue offshore wind energy in the near future, saying the city is uniquely qualified to provide infrastructure for windmills “that over time would allow us to potentially add 30 to 50 high-paying jobs.”

“For Morro Bay, that would be a huge catalyst,” he said.

Normally, candidates would have until Aug. 10 to file to run for office. Because incumbent Mayor Jamie Irons is not seeking re-election, and incumbent council member Headding is running for a different position, the filing deadline will be extended to Aug. 15.

Headding is the second candidate to file an intention statement for the November city election. Teacher and Women’s March San Luis Obispo co-founder Dawn Addis filed her intent to seek a seat on the city council in June.

There are three open seats for Morro Bay in November: the office of mayor, which has a two-year term, and two four-year city council seats. Headding occupies one of those seats, while teacher Matt Makowetski holds the other.

Makowetski has not yet signaled whether he intends to seek another term.

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7934, @andrewsheeler
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