County supervisors Debbie Arnold and John Peschong – Trumpists both – are up for re-election in 2020.
They should be replaced by public servants who disavow rigid ideology and believe elective office should benefit all the people, not just those who voted for them.
Arnold will be seeking her third four-year term as supervisor of San Luis Obispo County’s 5th District, which stretches from Atascadero into San Luis Obispo.
Peschong will be seeking a second term as supervisor of the 1st District, which runs from Templeton through Paso Robles to the Monterey County line.
Third District Supervisor Adam Hill also will be on the ballot in 2020, seeking his fourth term. He’s not a Trumpist.
Trumpists want to “deconstruct” American government – from local to federal – apparently because it’s supposed to serve all the people, not just the favored few.
Trumpists want our government to be so weak it can’t protect everyday Americans from the greed, corruption, pollution and negative health effects of special interests.
Trumpists are OK with political leadership that lies, steals, cheats, betrays America, betrays our values, betrays allies, cages children, coddles dictators, pays to silence porn stars, etc., etc., etc.
Trumpists are cool with all that, so long as they get their tax cuts.
Trumpists control the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors. It shows:
▪ Budget priorities that place potholes over people.
▪ Personnel policies that drove county workers to strike over wages for the first time ever.
▪ Legal cannabis policies that no one, least of all business interests, can figure out.
▪ Taking some $5 million from the General Fund to pay water management costs for favored North County land owners and campaign donors.
▪ A general carelessness with finances that’s forced the county’s money managers to tighten the budget belt at a time of supposed record economic robustness.
Arnold is a prime example of local Trumpism at its worst:
She’s incompetent and aggressively disinterested in getting better at her job or learning anything new — “governing” traits that seem to be requisite of Trumpism.
She consistently refuses to engage in a thorough examination of public policy — be it water management, rational housing policy, preparing for the economically challenging closure of Diablo Canyon and just about every other important issue.
She’s demonstrated total fealty to COLAB and a select group of favored North County water users at the expense of everyone else, especially her own constituents.
Arnold and Peschong will be on the March 3 primary ballot. Less than a year away, the California primary will play a prominent role in choosing the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee.
Exceptionally high Democrat, Independent and “decline to state” voter turnout is expected — probably why Peschong and Arnold refused to upgrade the county’s voting system by having the County Clerk send vote-by-mail ballots to every registered voter in the county.
More people voting means more people voting for someone else.
For his part, Peschong routinely enables Arnold’s bad decisions by refusing to correct or challenge her when he appears to know she’s wrong.
More troubling is the seemingly endless conflicts of interest Peschong finds himself in. A political consultant whose firm took in hundreds of thousands of dollars from Big Oil interests to promote Phillips 66 oil trains and defeat the Measure G fracking ban last November, Peschong is prevented from voting on any oil issues. He’s also party to a lawsuit against the county brought by a group of North County water users, preventing him from voting on some water policies.
For non-Trumpists, the campaign against Arnold and Peschong should be about:
▪ Good government vs. bad government: Competence matters, as do facts, science and thoroughly considered public policy.
▪ County supervisors who serve all the people, not just those who finance their campaigns and vote for them.
▪ County government that’s smart, honest, transparent and professional. Tearing down county government, starving it because of ideology so that it can’t perform at its best, serves no one but the wealthy and well connected.
It’s time for a different attitude on the county Board of Supervisors. The years of conflict, friction and rudderless public policy have exhausted most everyone.
We need a new beginning infused with bright, hopeful competence informed by kindness and compassion.
That’s why it’s good to hear rumors that Arnold may have a strong challenger, a woman with local government experience, skilled at conflict resolution and a proven learner and leader.
If true, she’ll be announcing her candidacy soon. Stay tuned.
Tom Fulks serves on the San Luis Obispo County Democratic Central Committee. He writes an occasional column for The Tribune.