In response to the recent Viewpoint by my opponent Eric Michielssen (May 24), I would like to communicate my positions on the issues.
As we approach Election Day, I would like to express my appreciation to the citizens of San Luis Obispo County for giving me the honor to serve on the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors. Next week, I will be asking voters to re-elect me to this important position.
I am not the first member of the Arnold family to serve on the board. Claude Arnold served as a county supervisor in the 1930s, and while I have been faced with many challenging votes as a supervisor, I often think of how difficult it must have been for Claude and his board as they were faced with the extreme challenges of the Great Depression. San Luis Obispo County has a rich history, including one of overcoming challenges, and it has emerged today as one of the most beautiful and desirable places to live in the nation.
Four years ago, I ran for a leadership position based on four principles. I wanted to hold government accountable; support policies that would promote a vibrant economy and create jobs; protect our beautiful open space and rural way of life; and support our sheriff, firefighters and other public safety officials.
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I have kept those promises in mind with every vote. I have also remembered my role is that of bringing the citizen’s voice to government business, as well as responsibly budgeting tax dollars to provide quality service to the public.
Along the way, I believe we have achieved many successes, and I would like to highlight just a few.
County road improvements
For the first time in many years, the county road maintenance budget was fully funded to address the annual maintenance costs. In the future, it will be important to maintain this level of funding in order to diminish the $180 million of deferred maintenance.
A project is now underway for improvements to our airport. As tourism increases in our county, the air service component becomes more important. The modernization of our airport will allow for additional flights to and from the area. The women’s jail expansion is also underway and will help minimize overcrowding of the county’s inmate population.
Open space and recreational projects
The county contributed funding toward two projects last year, the first being the further development of the Bob Jones Trail. The trail extends between Avila Beach and San Luis Obispo and is exceptionally popular with both locals and tourists. The second, the Pismo Preserve, will add nearly a thousand acres of permanent open space along the ocean in a parklike setting for all to enjoy.
Increased housing and services for the homeless
The 2015 Homeless Point In Time (PIT) Census Report indicates that the number of homeless individuals in SLO County dropped by 31 percent and the number of homeless veterans by 45 percent as compared with the 2013 PIT census. I attribute these improvements to the many new programs that have been incorporated recently by the county, along with collaboration by the many service providers throughout the county. I have served as the chair of the Homeless Services Oversight Council for the past four years and am encouraged by the success of the new programs.
Water has been a countywide challenge
I have worked to ensure fair distribution of water among our residents, farmers and businesses. The county has worked to complete the Nacimiento Water Project, which introduces a new supply of surface water. The county is also exploring the option of desalination. As we move toward state-mandated groundwater management, the county has committed to a leadership role in water management and protecting local supplies. The county adopted a No Water Export Ordinance to protect our water from being shipped out of the county. We are also in the process of addressing deepwater drilling in areas where recharge may be difficult. These are both attempts to protect our groundwater basins.
SLO County’s budget
The county continues to effectively manage the budget and has increased reserves for a healthy rainy-day fund.
I look forward to building upon these successes and continuing my promise of advocating for a more efficient government, lower taxes and protection of personal freedoms. It has truly been an honor serving the citizens of San Luis Obispo County.
Debbie Arnold represents District 5 on the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors. She is running for re-election in the June 7 contest.