Tribune recommends Avila, Picanco for Paso Robles City Council

Duane Picanco
Duane Picanco jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Pam Avila would be a breath of fresh air on the Paso Robles City Council. We especially like her interest in improving communications between the city and the community. We agree there’s room for improvement in that area; for example, the council should reconsider its decision not to televise its meetings.

We also like Avila’s emphasis on job creation. She is the first economic development director for the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce — a 20-hour-per-week position. Her experience in working firsthand with businesses should be of great value on the council when it comes to zoning and regulatory issues, as well as recognizing whether the city is keeping up with needs for housing, recreation, transportation and other services so vital to workers. There are some potential conflicts of interest as well — for instance, the city provides some funding to the Chamber of Commerce — and we would of course expect her to recuse herself from voting in those situations.

Overall, however, we believe her part-time association with the chamber would be an asset to the City Council.

We were impressed, too, with Avila’s grasp of the issues; she recognizes the city faces challenges regarding the budget, and we were impressed by her regional and statewide outlook on water.

One more item of note: It’s been 26 years since a woman has served on the Paso Robles City Council; the last was the late Betty Cousins, who was on the council from 1984 until 1988.

We would not endorse Avila simply for the sake of adding some diversity to the council. However, we do believe she’s highly qualified for the job, has some forward-thinking ideas and, as a bonus, her presence on the council could inspire more women to seek election in Paso Robles in the future.

The Tribune enthusiastically supports Pam Avila for Paso Robles City Council.

Duane Picanco has a long and impressive record of public service. He’s been on the Paso Robles City Council since 1990, including five terms as mayor.

He’s developed a well-deserved reputation for fiscal prudence. More than once, he’s been in the minority in opposing expenditures he believes to be unnecessary. For example, last year he opposed spending up to $150,000 on a street study because “I don’t think I need an engineer to tell me my streets are in bad shape.”

Streets are, in fact, a top priority for Picanco. He’s been a big proponent of taking care of city streets, and we believe he’ll continue to press for that as long as he’s on the council.

A retired shoe store owner, Picanco also has been a strong voice for small business by opposing regulations he finds too restrictive.

We do part ways with Picanco on some issues, though. For example, he voted against allowing mobile medical marijuana deliveries in the city of Paso Robles, not because he opposes medical marijuana for those who need it, but because he believes there should be a way to get prescriptions filled at a pharmacy. That would be ideal, but that just isn’t the reality in California.

On the other hand, we applaud Picanco and the rest of the City Council for unanimously agreeing to sell water for domestic use to residents living outside city limits.

“It was a humanitarian thing for me,” Picanco said.

Some residents may not agree, but in this time of extreme drought, we can’t see begrudging neighbors water for drinking, cooking and bathing.

To sum up, we believe Picanco is a man of principle, a hard worker, extremely conscientious and has the best interests of Paso Robles always in mind. The Tribune strongly endorses Duane Picanco for City Council.