Opinion

Editorial: Jim Guthrie is the best for 4th District supervisor

With Katcho Achadjian absent from the county supervisor’s race — he is running for the state Assembly — voters in the 4th District will be sending a newcomer to the board for the first time in a dozen years.

Three men are seeking to replace Achadjian, and each has an impressive record of public service and strong ties to the South County. We believe, though, that Arroyo Grande City Councilman Jim Guthrie’s combination of professional and political experience — particularly on land use and budget issues — makes him the strongest candidate.

Guthrie, 56, has served on the council since 2005, and before that, he spent four years on the Planning Commission.

We’ve long been impressed by Arroyo Grande’s ability to accommodate growth — including both housing and commercial projects — while still maintaining sizeable tracts of farmland and open space within city limits.

Guthrie’s been a part of that process for the past 10 years, and we believe that will give him valuable insights into land-use issues that come to the board.

Guthrie also has served on the board of the South County Sanitation District, and he has held leadership positions on several community organizations, such as the Pismo Beach Chamber of Commerce and the YMCA. He is general manager of the Spyglass Inn in Shell Beach.

On the City Council, Guthrie has been careful to consider the fiscal impacts of decisions — a trait that is especially important in this continuing budget crisis. For example, he initially opposed the city’s plan to purchase an existing office building in the Village to serve as City Hall, because he thought it might be more space than the city needed. He voted to move the project forward, though, so that staffing needs could be further analyzed, and ultimately voted in favor of it after the study was complete.

On issues facing the county, we found Guthrie’s positions to be both well-informed and reasonable.

A few examples:

 While he doesn’t support closing the Oceano Dunes to off-road vehicles, he believes health should take priority over recreation, and he looks forward to solutions that will reduce particulate pollution on the Nipomo Mesa.

 He does not support renewed oil drilling in the Huasna area. He questions the economic viability of the proposal and believes that defunct wells already on the property should be cleaned up first.

 To reduce the county’s pension liability, he favors a two-tiered system for newly hired employees. He also believes the county should take a look at salary and other benefits. While the prevailing wage ordinance requires the county to offer salaries comparable to what similar counties are paying, Guthrie supports including private industry in the formula as well.

Guthrie has built a wide base of support, both in the 4th District and beyond. His endorsement list includes county Supervisors Adam Hill and Jim Patterson, several current and former city council members from Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach, Grover Beach and San Luis Obispo, and current and former members of the Nipomo Community Services District.

That he draws support from all political spectrums — conservative and liberal, pro-growthers and slow-growthers — speaks to his ability to look beyond ideological lines and examine each issue on a case-by-case basis.

While there is always a learning curve when taking on a new position, we believe Guthrie has the experience, the temperament and the dedication to make a smooth transition to the Board of Supervisors, and to work productively and cooperatively with his colleagues and staff.

We strongly urge District 4 voters to elect Jim Guthrie to the Board of Supervisors.

4th District County Supervisor

Candidates: Jim Guthrie, Arroyo Grande City Council member; Paul Teixeira, Lucia Mar Unified School District trustee; Mike Zimmerman, attorney specializing in trusts, estates and business law

Term: 4 years

Annual salary: $82,014

Election Day: June 8

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