What’s next for Jimmy Paulding? He’s running for Arroyo Grande City Council

Jimmy Paulding will run for Arroyo Grande City Council, a month after his bid for the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors officially ended with a narrow defeat.

Paulding, an Arroyo Grande native, said he wants to continue the momentum built in his grassroots campaign to ensure transparency, maximize community participation and bring rational decision-making to local government.

“While on the county supervisor campaign trail, I met many A.G. residents who shared their concerns with regard to local issues. I had to tell many folks that the issues they raised were under the city’s jurisdiction, not the county’s,” Paulding said. “I took some notes, so now I can go back and reconnect with those people and focus on those issues.”

If elected, Paulding said he’d first focus on bolstering community participation.

“I go to the council meetings ... and there just aren’t enough people there,” he said. “I’d like to encourage people to get involved. You know, this is how you participate in your government — that’s the first thing.”

Paulding, who helped create amendments to the city’s Village Design Guidelines as an intern a decade ago, said he also felt he would bring a solid background in planning and land use to city decisions. (Paulding currently works as a project manager, claims analyst and attorney with Arcadis, a design, engineering and management consulting company.)

“I think I’d bring a strong vision for the future, and be someone who is going to bring a younger viewpoint — a millennial view,” he said.

Inspired in law school to engage in public service, he was a political novice in August 2017 when he announced he would challenge District 4 Supervisor Lynn Compton to represent South County on the county-wide board.

He built support with dozens of informal meet-and-greets in living rooms and door-to-door campaigning, eventually winning 49.84 percent of 18,324 votes in the June 2018 election — losing by 60 votes. His bases of support were on the Nipomo Mesa, in Oceano and Arroyo Grande.

District 4 Supervisors009
Jimmy Paulding speaks to supporters Spencer Todd, 10, and his mother Julia Todd at an election night party in Nipomo. Laura Dickinson ldickinson@thetribunenews.com

After he lost, Paulding said he received “a flood of emails” from supporters, saying “we kind of created this movement, there’s hope, so how can we continue to build on it?”

He said he had no regrets in the last election because “we worked the hardest we could and put everything into it.”

Instead, he’s focused on the positive and “how rewarding it was,” he added.

Through the campaign experience, he said, he also learned that your vote matters, that those who want to run for public office have to have a thick skin and that “in these turbulent political times, labels play too great a role in defining a person.”

He’ll face a large field of competitors for one of two council seats up for election in November.

So far, three others are vying for a spot on the council: Planning Commissioners Terry Fowler-Payne and John Mack and retired police officer Keith Storton have all filed paperwork with the city announcing they intend to run.

Councilwoman Barbara Harmon confirmed Friday she does not plan to run for a second term when her current one expires this year, leaving at least one of the spots up for grabs for a newcomer. Councilman Tim Brown, whose term also expires this year, has yet to announce if he will seek re-election.

The nomination period for city offices began July 16 and closes Aug. 10.

Meanwhile, Councilwoman Caren Ray and Mayor Jim Hill are both running for mayor.

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