Voters in Arroyo Grande will elect two new City Council members; neither incumbent Barbara Harmon nor Tim Brown is running for re-election.
The five candidates seeking to replace them include city planning commissioners John Mack and Terry Fowler-Payne; Coleen Kubel and Keith Storton, who both have city advisory board experience; and Jimmy Paulding, who recently ran for county supervisor.
This was not an easy decision — all the candidates impressed us with their professional backgrounds, their knowledge of the issues and their civility, which is a big plus in this age of political trolling.
We believe, however, that the city would most benefit from the election of Jimmy Paulding and Keith Storton. Both were raised in the community, have strong ties to Arroyo Grande and, most importantly, we believe they are in the best position to move the city forward, once and for all, following a string of City Hall personnel scandals and investigations that left the town deeply divided.
Paulding is already familiar to voters in the South County; he came close to defeating Supervisor Lynn Compton in June.
Given the contentious nature of the supervisor’s race, we wouldn’t have blamed him if he had disappeared from public life completely; that he’s back out there just three months later speaks to his determination and his dedication to South County.
We support Paulding for the same reasons we gave when we endorsed him for the Board of Supervisors. He’s smart, he knows the community, he’s a big proponent of public outreach and while he leans progressive in his politics, we believe he’d represent the best interests of all residents.
While some Compton supporters spoke disparagingly of “Jimmy the Kid” during the last campaign, Paulding, 32, also would offer the valuable perspective of millennials, who are woefully under-represented in local politics.
His career resume also is impressive: Paulding has worked on major public infrastructure projects as a manager and a claims analyst and he has a law degree.
Storton, 53, recently retired from the San Luis Obispo Police Department as captain. He’s served on the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission and the Architectural Review Committee and has a long list of other community involvements, including co-chairing the successful campaign to pass a bond measure for the Lucia Mar Unified School District.
We don’t agree with all of Storton’s views, but we appreciate the thoughtful and thorough way he analyzes the issues.
For example, he supports the repeal of the state gas tax. But it’s for a reason we don’t often hear mentioned: He’s concerned that it places an unfair burden on lower-income residents, who may not be able to afford to live close to their jobs and, as a result, have to travel longer distances and pay more in gas taxes.
We found Storton to be forward-thinking and positive — when he met with The Tribune Editorial Board, he declined to engage in any “Monday-morning quarterbacking” of past council decisions — and we believe he would be an outstanding City Council member.
We believe Paulding and Storton would both provide strong leadership now and into the future.
The Tribune strongly urges Arroyo Grande voters to elect Jimmy Paulding and Keith Storton to the City Council.