Three candidates are in the running to replace Grover Beach Mayor John Shoals, who is being termed out: current council members Jeff Lee and Debbie Peterson, and Liz Doukas, a court reporter who has run unsuccessfully for council in three previous elections.
Jeff Lee is the strongest of the three candidates.
Doukas’ dedication to the city is admirable, but she lacks the experience in local government to take on the position of mayor.
Peterson, like Lee, is half-way through a four-year term on the City Council, so regardless of the results of the mayor’s race, she will keep her council seat.
That’s good, because while Peterson has been a source of friction on the council in the past, she’s shown impressive growth in her current term.
Peterson is especially adept at community outreach; for example, she’s been holding Facebook Live sessions at local businesses every Tuesday — an excellent way to find out what’s on the minds of business people.
Right now, it’s Lee who has the experience, dedication and temperament for mayor. He’s served two consecutive terms on the City Council, including four years as mayor pro-tem, and he’s held leadership positions with the League of California Cities.
Lee is a relationship builder, and that’s an excellent skill to have in this era of divisiveness. For example, he reached out to the elementary school principals in Grover Beach to coordinate repaving efforts near the schools and to discuss bringing high-speed internet to the schools.
He’s also been meeting with officials in neighboring communities to discuss funding issues involving the Five Cities Fire Authority — the agency that serves Grover Beach, Arroyo Grande and Oceano.
“I will talk to anyone who wants to talk about Grover,” he told us. “I’m willing to have conversations with people who don’t agree with me or do agree with me.”
His top priority remains getting the streets fixed. That’s key; last year, Grover Beach streets ranked the worst in the county, though several streets have been fixed since then. Still, there is a long way to go, and city officials should be vigilant about getting the work completed.
Other pluses: Lee is extremely organized, affable and low-key, yet assertive when there’s a need for that.
He’s thoughtful in his decision-making, he does his homework and his background in public works is an excellent fit for the city.
The Tribune endorses Jeff Lee for mayor of Grover Beach.