So, Debbie Arnold was “gratified” that she beat newcomer Eric Michielssen in the race for the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors’ 5th District. The tally shows a 6 percent margin of victory for Ms. Arnold. She should not take that as a mandate to continue doing business as usual, because as an incumbent running against a first-time grass-roots candidate, she did poorly.
Her constituency was energized to replace her after her poor choice in supporting the Las Pilitas Quarry project, and ultimately Mr. Michielssen was recruited to oppose her. Despite campaign contributions that were more than three times Eric’s, she failed to put any significant distance between herself and her opponent.
Eric used his honest and forthright vision of the county’s future to engage the district’s voters and make an extremely formidable showing against his heavily favored opponent. It appears that the district is swinging again toward intelligent and responsible governance, and Ms. Arnold should do well to embrace that large portion of her constituency who approve of the way Mr. Michielssen presented the issues.
Ms. Arnold will be watched closely for moderation as new projects make their way through the county approval process.
Greg MacDougall, Atascadero