Adam Hill, Dan Carpenter head to November runoff in 3rd District SLO County supervisors race

Dan Carpenter talks to supporter Patty Welsh on election night in San Luis Obispo. A second-place finish in the 3rd District supervisor race would send Carpenter into a runoff with Adam Hill in November.
Dan Carpenter talks to supporter Patty Welsh on election night in San Luis Obispo. A second-place finish in the 3rd District supervisor race would send Carpenter into a runoff with Adam Hill in November. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Adam Hill and Dan Carpenter will be moving on to the Nov. 8 general election in the 3rd District supervisor race.

After a contentious campaign, Hill took 42.3 percent of the vote, followed by Carpenter with 31.2 percent and former Grover Beach mayor Debbie Peterson trailing with 26.3 percent in unofficial returns Tuesday night.

That means Hill and Capenter will face off in November in what promises to be a hotly contested race to represent the 3rd District in the South County.

Hill said Tuesday night that he was looking forward to continuing his campaign to retain his seat.

“I think both of my opponents really worked hard, and I give them credit for working hard,” he said. “And I’m thankful to the people who turned out to vote for me. Coming up, we will work better to reach out to those new voters (in November) and see what we can do to improve communication with those other voters.”

Carpenter said he was pleased with the results of Tuesday night’s primary election, and has an “aggressive program” for the next five months until the general election.

“It feels really good,” he said. “We had a good feeling; the tide really felt like it was turning our way and that momentum was building up in the last month. ... I believe our message is really resonating with the people.”

Carpenter said he hopes to court voters who supported Peterson to build a lead over Hill.

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On Tuesday night, Peterson said in the face of her defeat, she was, “excited about building up my realty business and saving for retirement.”

She also wanted to thank her supporters for their hard work during her campaign.

“I’m really proud to have been supported by the supporters I worked with,” she said. “They ran a good fight; they ran a fair fight.”

The Third District represents part of San Luis Obispo, as well as Grover Beach and Pismo Beach, and the smaller communities of Avila Beach and Edna Valley.

Leading up to the primary, the race focused less on platforms and more on the marked tension between the candidates, especially between Hill, the incumbent, and Carpenter.

Hill has served on the board since 2008, having little to no experience in public governance before then (he taught literature and writing at Cal Poly for 13 years). During the campaign, Hill cited his track record on the board — establishing the 900-acre Pismo Preserve, pursuing a new terminal at the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport, working on the county’s 50Now initiative to house the homeless, advocating for desalinated water via Diablo Canyon Power Plant, and creating a local technology hub — as reasons he should be elected to a third term.

Unlike Carpenter and Peterson, Hill also said he would support state control of the Paso Robles groundwater basin rather than county control, contending the county does not have the resources to properly manage the overpumped basin. (Carpenter and Peterson both advocated for county control through the local flood control district).

Throughout his term on the board, Hill’s detractors have criticized him for what they term “bullying” behavior on the dais — a concern that has reached beyond the county supervisor’s chambers into online forums, as well.

Carpenter said Hill’s behavior on the dais was a primary reason he ran against the incumbent.

Carpenter, an eight-year councilman on the San Luis Obispo City Council, also campaigned on his voting record on the council as evidence of his viability as a supervisor. He cited initiatives and projects like the Los Osos Valley Road interchange project, a $65 million wastewater treatment plant upgrade, a citywide economic strategic plan, an infrastructure investment fund and adding 2,100 acre-feet to the city’s water supply from Nacimiento Lake as some of his top achievements.

Carpenter also strayed from his two opponents regarding the Phillips 66 proposal to bring crude oil to the Nipomo refinery by rail: at an editorial meeting with The Tribune, he said though he signed a letter by San Luis Obispo Mayor Jan Marx opposing the project, if he were elected to the board, he would have to take into consideration land use elements before making his final decision on the controversial project (both Hill and Peterson said they opposed the project outright).

Peterson, a former Grover Beach mayor, for the most part stayed out of the mudslinging between Carpenter and Hill, though she has been critical of Hill’s policies and behavior in the past.

Peterson, who owns Peterson Team Realty, ran on her perspective as a businesswoman and her 10 years experience in city government, starting in 2005 on the Grover Beach Planning Commission.

During that time, she said her top achievements were approving and defeating an appeal of the Grover Beach Lodge and Conference Center and beginning work on Measure K-14, which allows the city to sell bonds to repair its aging roads.