In addition to serving as Mayor of Morro Bay, Janice is a professional photographer, Coordinator of the Winter Bird Festival, and co-author of a new series of childrens books.
My Election Selections
by Janice Peters
Since I am retiring after 20 years in Morro Bay city government, people have been asking me which candidates I support in the primary election on June 8.
I care very much about the future of our city and the leaders who will take us there, so here are my opinions on the candidates, pro and con, based on my personal experience and knowledge about them.
Rick Grantham, current City Councilman, exhibits all the qualities I value in a mayor. He devotes many hours each week to city business, visiting the various departments and getting updates on their activities. He is respectful and considerate of our residents and actively participates in many community events. He researches and considers all viewpoints on the issues, and makes balanced decisions. His positive, friendly attitude is an important asset for someone serving as mayor.
Betty Winholtz, current City Councilwoman, is also a hard worker, who thoroughly studies the staff reports and asks questions that clarify the issues for our citizens. However, she can be argumentative and rude to city staff and other councilmembers. She often refuses to compromise for the common good, as when she voted against the sales tax initiative (which she agreed was necessary) because it wasn't conditioned as she wanted.
Bill Yates, former mayor, was effective in his first two terms, when a strong personality was needed to bring order to council meetings and city operations. However, when elected to a third term several years later, his temper tantrums both in public and closed sessions, and his bullying of city staff, were detrimental to city operations and morale. His chauvinism was obvious in his treatment of female council members and was made blatantly clear in his blog during the last election, when three of four candidates for mayor were female and Yates stated that the male candidate was the only one who "looks like a mayor."
Neil Farrell, newspaper editor, has been writing about Morro Bay for many years, and is certainly informed on many of the issues. He also participates in many community events, most notably as Uncle Sam on July 4th and his current work on the 4th of July committee. While he is enthusiastic and has interesting ideas, he is surprisingly naïve about the practicality of those ideas given the regulations and financial constraints imposed on government entities. His broad criticism of city staff is also ill informed and unwarranted.
My vote for mayor: I wholeheartedly support Rick Grantham.
For City Council:
Nancy Johnson, Planning Commission Chair, has strong government experience due to her work on the Planning Commission. She is also very involved in the community, in particular reviving the Dahlia Days event and her activity with Morro Bay Beautiful. She handles her Planning Commission duties well and could be an effective council member.
D'Onna Kennedy, retired from the military, is a new face in City politics, although she has lived here for 8 years and visited for many years before that. Since declaring her candidacy, she has immersed herself in learning about current issues and gathering public input. Her dedication, enthusiasm and positive attitude are impressive.
Jack Smith, marketing director, is a longtime resident of Morro Bay, but a newcomer to the political scene. He is an organizer of the annual skateboard competition and has written a book about the sport. I have met Jack a few times, but do not have any knowledge of his stance on the issues.
George Leage, businessman, has a long and colorful history in Morro Bay. As my opponent in the last election, he was a reluctant participant in the campaign process, and was basically a one-issue candidate regarding his financial interest in a waterfront lease site. It will be interesting to see if he participates as an informed candidate this time, which will be indicative of the degree of dedication he would bring to the office.
My votes for City Council: I support Nancy Johnson and D'Onna Kennedy, (lacking any knowledge of Jack Smith's positions at the time this column is due.)
For Supervisor, 2nd District:
Marshall Ochylski, attorney, currently serving on Los Osos CSD, has been active in local affairs for the 12 years I have known him. As an attorney, he has sometimes been on the other side of an issue, but has always been respectful, moderate, and even-tempered in presenting his solution-building arguments. Most importantly, he sided with our City Council and testified on our behalf when current Supervisor Bruce Gibson decided to eliminate Morro Bay's sphere of influence.
Previously, we had a very large sphere of influence. Gibson, who also serves on the County land use board (LAFCO), decided it should be taken away because our General Plan didn't include any annexation plans, which is what spheres are usually for, in addition to protecting city borders from county development for which the city may not be able to provide resources. The City Council and staff agreed our sphere was too large and offered a compromise plan that reduced it by about 2/3s, but still included Rancho Colina, the Chevron property and areas where we have wells.
Despite the pleas of a united Morro Bay City Council and the support of Marshall Ochylski, affected property owners, and the LAFCO members from SLO and Paso Robles, Gibson persuaded the LAFCO majority to eliminate our sphere entirely, making us the only city in the State without a sphere of influence (except for those whose city limits directly abut another city.) This is not the kind of treatment we deserve from our District Supervisor.
My vote for Supervisor: Marshall Ochylski.
Whether you agree with my choices or not, please do your own research on the candidates, watch the May 4 forum, and vote wisely. Morro Bay's future is at stake.