Paso poised to elect first woman to council in 34 years; Martin, Hamon win

Council candidate Maria Garcia shares her goals for Paso Robles

City Council candidate Maria Garcia talks about her goals for Paso Robles at her election night party on Tuesday, November 6, 2018.
Up Next
City Council candidate Maria Garcia talks about her goals for Paso Robles at her election night party on Tuesday, November 6, 2018.

Steve Martin is close to securing his second term as Paso Robles mayor, according to early Wednesday election returns.

As of 12:43 a.m., with 100 percent of precincts reporting, Martin led with 54.9 percent of the vote over Jim Reed with 44.9 percent.

Voters appear to have re-elected Councilman John Hamon for a second term and selected Maria Elena Garcia to fill the other council seat up for grabs.

Hamon continued to lead with 30.5 percent of the vote, followed by Garcia with 26.6 percent.

They were followed by Michael Rivera with 21.8 percent and Andy Pekema with 21 percent.

Who will be mayor?

Martin was elected mayor in 2014, when he ran unopposed. In 2016, he made an unsuccessful bid to represent District 1 on the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, losing to John Peschong.

Reed has served on the City Council since 2014 and gave up his chance to run for another term to take a shot at becoming mayor.

Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin spent much of the night at a City Council meeting. On the way out of the meeting, he told The Tribune that his campaign for his second term as mayor was a quiet one.

“I think people, at least in the mayor’s race, know us very well,” Martin said of himself and Councilman Jim Reed, his opponent. “I think people were set in their votes.”

Asking the Tough Questions

This election matters. From local city council races to California’s ballot propositions, The Tribune is committed to providing the best political coverage on the Central Coast.

And after the ballots are counted, our reporters work to hold elected officials accountable and ask the tough questions you need answered.

Support local journalism: Sign up for a digital subscription to The Tribune today.

Who will join the City Council?

Four candidates are competing for two council seats — one incumbent and three newcomers.

Hamon is attempting to win a fourth term as councilman, a position he’s held since 2006. He also attempted to run for District 1 supervisor in 2016, but was eliminated in the primary round of the election.

Reached by phone late Tuesday night, Hamon said he’s feeling good about the results so far and is hopeful he can continue the city’s work.

“I’m appreciative of everyone getting behind me on this,” he said.

Should he win another term, Hamon said, he wants to keep improving Paso Robles’ infrastructure and emergency services.

“The safety and the basics is always what I’ve focused on for the city,” he said.

Garcia, Rivera and Pekema are also competing to serve as city leaders. If Garcia wins one of the seats, she’ll be the first woman elected to the Paso Robles City Council in 34 years, according to a Tribune editorial.

Garcia, who awaited election results with her supporters at Su Casa Bar and Grill in Paso Robles, said she felt optimistic about the outcome.

Regardless of how the race turns out, Garcia said she’s proud that she was able to get community members involved in politics.

“I feel like a lot of of the community — it’s their first time ever to get involved,” Garcia said. “They really didn’t think their voice mattered.”

Asked how it would feel to become the first woman on the City Council in decades, Garcia said it would be a good accomplishment.

She hopes her candidacy encourages more women to run for office in Paso Robles. “I’m hoping I can open the doors,” she said. “I’m hoping I can set an example.”

For more on the candidates’ election platforms, check out our article: “Where Paso Robles candidates stand on immigration, tourism and other key issues.”

Ballot measures

Paso Robles residents also voted on four ballot measures, including a cannabis sales tax and a special tax for road improvements. Here’s a look at how they were trending as of early Wednesday morning.

Measure H-18, which would shift the city clerk to an appointed position, was leading 53.7 percent in support to 46.4 percent against.

Measure I-18, passage of the cannabis tax, was leading with 67.5 percent in support and 32.5 percent against.

It would tax cannabis businesses up to $20 per square foot for cultivation and processing, up to 10 percent of gross receipts for transportation, up to 15 percent of gross receipts for manufacturing, testing and distribution and up to 10 percent of gross receipts for dispensaries. The tax would generate about $15,000 annually for unrestricted general purposes, according to the measure.

Measure K-18, the special sales tax for road repairs, was failing with 54.11 percent opposed and 45.89 percent in support.

This measure would add another sales tax to help pay for road repairs and emergency service needs. It would provide approximately $4.75 million annually for six years, according to the measure.

Measure N-18, the sales tax advisory, was ahead with 72.3 percent in support to 27.7 percent opposed.

This measure would permit officials to use funds from the sales tax increase primarily for repairing and maintaining Paso Robles’ streets and sidewalks.

For more information on North County cities’ ballot measures, check out our story: “From cannabis to sales taxes, here are the ballot measures facing North County voters.”

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

Lindsey Holden: 805-781-7939, @lindseymholden