Editorials

Adam Hill deserves another term in SLO County’s District 3

dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

The campaign for District 3 supervisor has devolved into a hot mess, and for that, candidates Adam Hill and Dan Carpenter are equally to blame.

Debbie Peterson is conducting a civil campaign. Good for her.

Carpenter and Hill, on the other hand, have been trading insults back and forth for weeks, and there have been unverifiable rumors flying about both men on websites that serve no purpose other than to disparage the candidates, their backers and in some cases, their family members.

While the candidates cannot be held responsible for their supporters’ every move, we urge Hill and Carpenter to distance themselves from the mudslinging and to stop their personal attacks on one another.

District 3 voters, meanwhile, would do well to avoid the sideshow and concentrate on what matters — the qualifications of the candidates, their voting records and their positions on the issues.

All three candidates have impressed us at one time or another; we endorsed Peterson for Grover Beach mayor in 2012; Carpenter for San Luis Obispo City Council in 2012; and Hill for supervisor, also in 2012.

When we weighed all factors, however, we concluded Hill is the best pick for District 3.

First, let’s address the elephant in the room: Yes, there are times when Hill has behaved arrogantly, abrasively and self-righteously. (For the record, The Tribune has been among Hill’s targets on multiple occasions.)

As we said in 2012: “Diplomacy has not been Hill’s strength, and that is something he should work to improve.”

He still has work to do in that area.

However, Hill’s enemies — and we don’t believe that word is too strong — have been over the top in demonizing him.

Contrary to what they would have you believe, Hill does not bite the head off every speaker who approaches the podium at the Board of Supervisors chambers. Check for yourself; randomly tune in to any Board of Supervisors hearing.

Hill’s detractors also accuse him of being in the back pocket of developers. That’s not borne out by his record.

Two examples: In January, he voted against developer Rob Rossi’s request to add a hotel and 86 vacation rentals and homes at the Blacklake Golf Resort in Nipomo. (It still passed on a 3-2 vote.) And in November, he shared strong reservations about a 232-unit resort proposed for Avila Point — the site of the former oil tank farm that overlooks the town.

“I don’t want to prejudge this,” he said then, “but I think that more than anything else, traffic will be the critical issue that will have to be addressed. I don’t see how that is going to happen.”

In his approach to challenges facing San Luis Obispo County, Hill is a realist who looks for solutions, and we believe that makes him the strongest candidate.

For one, he recognizes that resources and infrastructure are necessary to support additional development. An example: He was one of the staunchest advocates for studying the possibility of bringing desalinated water from Diablo Canyon to the South County.

We also agree with his vote to put a half-cent sales tax for regional highway projects on the November ballot. Traffic on Highway 101 in South County, for instance, is a mess — as any regular commuter knows — and voters should have a say on whether they want to contribute to making things better.

Hill also is upfront about what it will take to manage the Paso Robles groundwater basin. If the county is going to take over management, he told The Tribune Editorial Board, it’s going to need to collect fees from property owners to do so.

Carpenter and Peterson, on the other hand, believe the county should cover the costs out of its existing budget.

We find that irresponsible. The county public works department estimated it will cost $925,000 per year to manage the basin properly. It will require hiring two — and eventually three — staff members, renting an office (the county has no space available) and preparing a state-mandated plan, among other expenses.

Some complain the budget is inflated. In other words, they believe public works staff is perfectly capable of managing the basin — but is incompetent when it comes to preparing a budget. That’s absurd.

That fact is, if property owners don’t step up and contribute, the money will have to come from elsewhere in the flood control and water conservation budget — possibly from cutting back on water monitoring and/or regional flood control planning, to name a couple of areas.

We believe it’s both fiscally unsound and unfair to other residents of the county to suggest as much. After all, residents of other areas requiring special services from county public works pay annual assessments to cover those costs. Why shouldn’t Paso Robles basin owners be required to do the same?

Bottom line: As disappointed as we are with the way this campaign is playing out, we believe Adam Hill brings valuable contributions to the Board of Supervisors. He is experienced, he focuses on solutions rather than problems, and on a board that leans conservative, his more liberal voice assures all points of view are considered.

The Tribune endorses Adam Hill for District 3 supervisor.

Candidates for District 3 supervisor

  • Dan Carpenter, San Luis Obispo city councilman
  • Adam Hill, incumbent
  • Debbie Peterson, former Grover Beach mayor

The Tribune endorses: Adam Hill

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