Editorial: Johnson and Smith for Morro Bay City Council

Two seats are open on the Morro Bay City Council, and with incumbents Rick Grantham and Betty Winholtz in the race for mayor, that guarantees the election of two new council members.

All four candidates have impressive resumes, substantial knowledge of the issues and a genuine desire to help Morro Bay through one of the most challenging economic periods in its history.

We believe, however, that city Planning Commissioner Nancy Johnson and Jack Smith, a marketing professional, are the best fit for the council at this time.

Johnson has served on the Planning Commission for six years and has been chairwoman for the past three years. Prior to that, she was on the city’s Public Works Advisory Board for four years.

Those experiences have given her an excellent grasp of the issues facing the city. We found she has a realistic — yet optimistic — outlook about the considerable challenges facing the city.

She doesn’t believe the power plant will be able to continue to operate long term and points out that the city will have to make up for the loss of substantial revenue as a result.

She supports turning that area into an industrial zone.

“We need industry. That’s the main reason the city is in trouble,” she said, specifying that the city should work to attract nonpolluting industries.

We also like the fact that she remains highly supportive of the fishing industry. While she acknowledges that there are limits to what the city can do in the face of federal rules and regulations, we were impressed by her knowledge of the industry and her willingness to lobby for easing some of the more onerous restrictions.

We agree, too, with her concerns about the convention center planned for the Embarcadero, particularly the lack of parking.

But what’s more important than her stance on any particular issue is the fact that she has the tools she needs to lead the city, including extensive knowledge of how municipal government operates and experience in chairing Planning Commission meetings.

Smith doesn’t have that hands-on experience in local government, but we believe the city could benefit from his extensive background in promotions and marketing. He also has coached athletics and has had a long career in professional skateboarding.

He’s used his skateboarding experience as a springboard to several opportunities — including launching a skateboard slalom race in Morro Bay that became an international event and generated substantial business for city merchants. He’s also published a book on skateboarding, runs a website devoted to the sport and has skated cross-country to raise money for charity on two occasions.

Like Johnson, Smith also shows a practical side that we like. For example, he described the idea of establishing a university at the site of the power plant as a “pipe dream,” noting that Morro Bay doesn’t have the infrastructure to support that.

We believe that Johnson’s political experience and Smith’s fresh eyes and marketing know-how — something that could help the city boost tourism — would be an excellent combination for the Morro Bay City Council.

We urge voters to select Johnson and Smith for council in the June 8 primary.

Election information

Race: Morro Bay City Council primary

Number of seats: Two

Candidates: Planning Commissioner Nancy Johnson; retired Army officer D’Onna Kennedy; Morro Bay restaurant owner George Leage; marketing director Jack Smith

Term: Four years

Salary: $525 per month

Election day: June 8