Arroyo Grande picks Jimmy Paulding and Keith Storton; Caren Ray holds lead for mayor

Caren Ray is still holding her early lead in the race for Arroyo Grande mayor, while Jimmy Paulding and Keith Storton seemed solidly headed for two open City Council seats.

As of early Wednesday morning, with 100 percent of precincts reporting in addition to 4,465 mail-in ballots, Ray led the mayor’s race with 51.9 percent to Hill’s 48 percent.

In the City Council race, Paulding is the top vote-getter so far at 34.3 percent, followed by Storton at 31 percent, Coleen Kubel at 15.7 percent, John Mack at 12.3 percent and Terry Fowler-Payne at 7 percent.

The final election results will likely not be known for weeks, however, while the county elections office counts mail-in and provisional ballots.

Who will be mayor?

The hotly contested mayoral race in Arroyo Grande is a matchup between Hill, who has served as mayor for four years, and Ray, a current councilwoman.

Hill sailed into city leadership in 2014, riding a successful grassroots campaign that ousted the former longtime mayor, and spurred the departure of a controversial city manager.

Ray first joined the council in 2010, but left for a brief sabbatical on the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors after then-Fourth District Supervisor Paul Teixeira died in 2013. She then lost her re-election campaign against current supervisor Lynn Compton.

Asking the Tough Questions

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For the past two years, the duo have sat on the same council — and often been at odds — while the city pondered its finances, ever-changing administration, new developments and the threat of drought to the local water supply.

If elected, Ray would have to give up her council seat for the remaining two years of her term.

Ray watched the first round of election results come in at Rooster Creek Tavern in the Village of Arroyo Grande.

“At this point I’m cautiously optimistic,” she said, after learning she was in the lead in the race for mayor. “I’m hoping those results hold.”

Hill did not respond to requests for comment on the preliminary results Tuesday night.

Who will join the City Council?

No matter Tuesday night’s results, two new people will be joining the Arroyo Grande City Council in 2018, since both Tim Brown and Barbara Harmon have chosen to not seek re-election for their seats.

Among the contenders are Paulding, a one-time county supervisor candidate; Storton, a former San Luis Obispo police officer; Mack, a planning commissioner; Fowler-Payne, also a planning commissioner, and general contractor Kubel.

For more on the candidates’ platforms during the election, check out this article: “From water to bankruptcy: Here’s where Arroyo Grande candidates stand on the issues.”

Soon after the first round of results were released, whooping sounds could be heard along the Village, where multiple election parties were taking place.

Two of those election parties were being held by City Council frontrunners Paulding and Storton. Paulding drank wine with supporters at the Timbre Winery tasting room, while Storton chatted with supporters a few doors down at Branch Street Deli.

“I’m feeling really good with the first round of results to come out so far,” Storton said, adding that he’s “really confident with what we’ve seen so far.”

Paulding also expressed optimism at early election results, adding, “I just want to say thank you to all my supporters, those who helped with my campaign.”

This article will be updated as more results are announced, so stay tuned with The Tribune for further updates.

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie
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