By JOSH FRIEDMAN
In what could lead to a possible shakeup of the Arroyo Grande City Council, two planning commissioners and a retired police captain are entering the 2018 council race.
Arroyo Grande planning commissioners Terry Fowler-Payne and John Mack were motivated to run because of problems with city processes they discovered while serving on the commission. Meanwhile, Keith Storton, who retired in 2016 following a long career with the San Luis Obispo Police Department, has announced he is also running for a seat on the council.
This year, the seats belonging to Councilwoman Barbara Harmon and Councilman Tim Brown are up for election. It is unclear whether Harmon and Brown will defend their seats, though there is speculation in Arroyo Grande that at least one will opt not to enter the race.
Fowler-Payne, who is Harmon’s appointee to the city planning commission, is a lifelong Arroyo Grande resident. She is currently retired, having worked previously as a project manager for RRM Design.
Fowler-Payne said she was motivated to run after a confrontation with Harmon. Fowler-Payne was not voting pro-development on the planning commission and that upset Harmon, Fowler-Payne said.
“I go by the guidelines. If a project doesn’t meet the guidelines, I don’t care if it is a big developer or a small property owner,” Fowler-Payne said.
After Fowler-Payne voted to deny a proposed project, Harmon called her and ordered her to go down to the city and resign, Fowler-Payne said.
Harmon told her to write a resignation letter saying she was leaving in order to spend more time at the lake house, Fowler-Payne said
“I went down to the city, not to resign, but to get papers to run,” Fowler-Payne said.
Harmon did not return requests for comment.
John Mack is Mayor Jim Hill’s appointee to the Arroyo Grande Planning Commission. Mack also has a background in planning and architecture. He has lived in Arroyo Grande for 30 years.
Arroyo Grande is currently running with a budget deficit. Mack said concerns over the budget have motivated him to run a second time.
“I can bring us back in the black,” Mack said. “I know how to bring new sources of revenue to the city.”
Storton, an Arroyo Grande native, has lived in the city for more than 40 years. He has served on a variety of committees, including Arroyo Grande’s Architectural Review Commission and the Parks and Recreation Commission.
The former law enforcement officer says he is not driven to run by “what’s wrong with our city,” but rather by “what’s right with our city.” According to Transparent California, Storton is currently receiving an annual pension of about $150,000 from his CalPERS retirement plan with the city of SLO.
Meanwhile, Arroyo Grande Councilwoman Caren Ray has announced she will challenge Mayor Jim Hill for the city’s mayoral seat. Ray is in the middle of a four-year term on the council. If she were to win the mayoral election, it would vacate a council seat.