Editorial: Yates is best to lead Morro Bay out of trouble

Out of a field of four viable candidates for Morro Bay mayor, we were especially impressed by Rick Grantham, who currently serves on the council, and by former three-term Mayor Bill Yates.

Either candidate would be a good choice, but we believe Yates is better suited to lead the city out of its current economic crisis.

Grantham has been an effective council member, but we believe that Yates has the leadership experience the city needs.

We’re also impressed by his proven ability to cut through red tape and get things done.

Case in point: In the mid- 1990s, a county proposal to replace the flood-prone Twin Bridges had been languishing for years when Yates proposed that the city of Morro Bay take over the project. The City Council made it a top priority, and the bridge got built.

He also effectively lobbied to keep a Coast Guard cutter in Morro Bay back in the 1990s, when the Coast Guard was proposing to pull out of the harbor entirely.

Morro Bay needs such leadership now, as it confronts a big budget deficit and the possible loss of even more revenue in the future, in the likely event that the power plant closes.

Like all the candidates, Yates is focused on economic recovery, and he has some of the most specific ideas for jump-starting Morro Bay’s economy by boosting tourism.

Those include sprucing up the Embarcadero through beautification projects — “replace the street lamps, paint the lamp posts, fly banners, drastically reduce the street signage reason with those business (owners) whose signs are faded and need refreshing ”

We also like Yates’ suggestions to bring in entertainment on the weekends and to attract more visitor-serving businesses, such as bike rentals and food carts.

Looking ahead, he supports establishment of a maritime museum — a natural for Morro Bay — and the Ships to Reef program that would create an artificial reef by sinking a surplus ship.

One concern: Yates has at times been abrasive in his dealings with the public and with city staff. That may be due to his keen interest in getting a project through, but a mayor sets the tone for a city by maintaining a consistently professional manner in dealing with the public and with city staff.

Yates does seem to learn from his missteps, however, and we believe that he would be an effective ambassador for Morro Bay.

We also like the fact that his background as a small business owner gives him good insight into the challenges facing the business community, and his three terms as mayor give him an excellent knowledge of the issues facing the city.

We strongly urge voters of Morro Bay to elect Bill Yates as mayor.

Morro Bay Mayor

Election: Primary

Candidates: Neil Farrell, journalist; Rick Grantham, City Council member; Betty Winholtz, City Council member; William Yates, former mayor

Term: Two years

Salary: $725 per month

Election Day: June 8