Longtime Morro Bay business owner John Weiss on Monday announced his intent to run for mayor.
“I felt I had the skill set and the time and the interest to serve the community,” said Weiss, the owner of Coast Electronics for 40 years.
He is also a former board president of the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce. During his tenure, the chamber launched the Morro Bay Kite Festival and Avocado and Margarita Street Festival.
And he just finished term as governor of Rotary District 5240, which encompasses Kern, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
He said his reason for running for mayor was “my love for Morro Bay, my community.”
It’s a community, he said, that’s facing some serious concerns. He said hotel revenue is going down in Morro Bay, “which is alarming to me.”
And then there’s the city’s ongoing wastewater problem.
When he first opened Coast Electronics in 1978, Weiss said, Los Osos was trying to build a sewer plant.
“Due to protests, ad nauseum, the cost of the sewer increased,” he said.
Weiss said he’s watched Morro Bay’s proposed sewage treatment plant replacement spiral up in cost over the years, particularly after Cayucos abandoned Morro Bay to pursue its own wastewater treatment plant.
“They’re (Cayucos) going to be breaking ground on a $25 million plant this Friday,” Weiss said.
While he is critical of how the city and the current city council has handled the wastewater treatment issue, Weiss said if he’s elected he’s willing to work with city staff and the public on finding the best way forward.
“I am open-minded. I’m interested in finding fiscally responsible solutions,” he said. “I’m concerned about the $126 million price tag.”
Weiss added that he’s dismayed at the tense mood at recent city council meetings.
“I am a very strong advocate of civility and getting along,” he said. “I believe we can all agree that everyone that attends a city council meeting cares about Morro Bay.”
“But we are not always civil to each other,” Weiss said.
Weiss said he is a natural facilitator, adding that his leadership style is a big part of why he’s retained the same workforce for so long. Several of his employees have been with the company for 18 years or more, he said.
He said he hopes to put that skill to use with the city of Morro Bay, which he said has experienced an “appalling” amount of turnover in recent years.
One job that’s experienced a fair bit of turnover is that of city manager.
“I’m happy to report I like new city manager (Scott Collins) that the council has hired,” Weiss said. “I believe he’s an excellent fit.”
Weiss said other priorities include spurring economic development beyond tourism and doing more to support the city’s fishing community, which he said are a strong part of the character of the community.
“If we get the economic engine in Morro Bay on the right track, and if we can get the capital improvement costs under control, it will afford us the opportunity to repair our streets and reduce our public safety response time,” he said.
Weiss said also that he would like to bring back the city’s long-shelved Fourth of July fireworks display.
“It may be very difficult to get them to come back, but I do think it’s possible,” he said. “I think we miss out by not having fireworks in Morro Bay.”
Weiss is one of three candidates who’ve signaled their intent to run for a two-year mayoral term, replacing incumbent Jamie Irons, who has announced he will not seek re-election.
Other mayoral candidates include city council member John Headding and Jeff Heller, who also has been a vocal critic of the city’s proposed wastewater treatment project.
There are also two open city four-year city council seats, one held by Headding and one held by Matt Makowetski. Makowetski has not yet filed a candidate intent form. Dawn Addis, co-founder of the Women’s March San Luis Obispo organization, has filed her intent to seek a seat on the city council.
The deadline to file a candidate intention statement is Aug. 10, unless an incumbent opts not to seek re-election. In that case, the deadline will be pushed to Aug. 15.