Candidate profile: Mike Zimmerman

Mike Zimmerman
Mike Zimmerman The Tribune

Zimmerman posits himself as a classic conservative. A lawyer and rancher, he ran for state Assembly in 2004 and finished third in the Republican primary.

Zimmerman describes himself as “a strong property-rights candidate.”

A Cal Poly graduate, he is anti-regulation, and told students, “We can’t afford to be regulating our businesses out of existence.” He singled out for criticism a county events ordinance that, he said, makes it more difficult for ranchers to supplement their incomes by hosting weddings and other events.

Of the three, Zimmerman is the most critical of the air study that showed particulate matter from the Dunes is polluting the Nipomo Mesa. He unswervingly supports off-roading, for the economic boost it provides.

Zimmerman said it would be good to have an attorney on the Board of Supervisors, adding that he could challenge the county counsel if necessary. The county counsel provides legal advice to the board.

He stresses the fact that he has owned his own business, a status that, he says, makes him “uniquely qualified to provide … common-sense leadership and thinking.”

Zimmerman believes the county should get to work quickly to establish desalination as a water source. He says the cost can be shared among agencies. He considers water the most important issue facing the county.

On gangs, Zimmerman suggested a paint-ball park as one of several possible solutions to keep youngsters out of trouble.

Q&A: Four questions for Mike Zimmerman

Q. What would you do to protect against crime, especially gang encroachment in the South County? Should Nipomo allow a medical marijuana clinic?

A. We need to be aggressive about keeping gang activity out of our county. Use the anti-gang coordinating commission and obtain state and federal grants to help fund the gang task force.

I would like to increase volunteer patrols to notify law enforcement of suspicious activity. Nipomo should not allow a medical marijuana clinic. The law is unsettled in this area as there is a conflict between federal and state laws. Law enforcement in Nipomo cannot handle the presence of this kind of clinic. The proposed clinic location is adjacent to a youth gymnastics facility, which is totally inappropriate.

Q. Is pollution on the Nipomo Mesa a problem? Should motorized vehicles be banned from the Oceano Dunes, or limited? If they were banned, do you believe a new, reliable source of tourist income could emerge?

A. The particulate study is potentially flawed because of the methodology used. The California Geological Survey originally involved withdrew when the APCD did not follow its recommendations. The CGS indicated that the study’s methodology does not directly correlate off-highway vehicle use to recorded particulate data from air monitoring sites. If OHV use is truly causing air pollution in Nipomo, then corrective measures need to be taken. Until this study is fully reviewed and, if need be, done over again, I (oppose) any premature closure of the Dunes. Our economy can’t afford to lose tourism over a flawed study.

Q. Water is in dwindling supply in every place in the South County. What would you do to guarantee a continuing adequate supply? Should water be rationed?

A. Desalination facilities are used worldwide. The county owns property near the Conoco-Phillips refinery that could be a great location to install a desal plant. If a regional facility is put in that could be shared with several other municipalities, then the cost would not be prohibitive. Water produced can be shared by each contributing entity. A plan for this needs to begin right away, as there will be many hurdles, such as dealing with the Coastal Commission. If we don’t start, it will never come to fruition. Rationing is only a Band-Aid, not a long-term solution.

Q. Where in the budget can you cut? What are your priorities? Is there a way to corral pension costs? Please be specific.

A. Each department needs review. Many times, department budgets are based upon the previous year, (and) things are put in that are not necessary, just to keep the funding level from going down. Incentives should be implemented to reward department managers for reducing budgets. Public safety is important, but even these departments should look for savings. Pensions must be gotten under control. We should go to a defined-contribution plan with new employees. I have taken no union money in my run for office, so there will be no conflict with me in negotiating with unions on pension changes.

Information from the official voter's guide

I have practiced law in Arroyo Grande for 31 years in Estate Planning, Medi-Cal Planning, Business Law and Real Estate Law.

As the only candidate with a background in law I can bring perspective and common sense to the Board. My seat on the board will be an asset in wading through the complexities that are sure to arise.

As a rancher, president of the SLO Range Improvement Association, 4-H leader, member of Farm Bureau and Cattleman’s association I am a strong advocate for property rights, protection of the Williamson Act and Proposition 13.

I will be an advocate for small business owners, farmers and ranchers by fighting against unreasonable regulations. I am for making local government less intrusive into our lives. If businesses are encouraged to do business here rather than taxed and regulated out of existence then we will have opportunities to create more jobs. We need controlled steady growth in order to provide jobs and a strong local economy.

I am pro-life, pro-second amendment and am for faith, freedom and family.