OPINION by KRIS VICTORINE
I listened to both Mayor Jim Hill and Councilwoman Caren Ray at the Sep. 13 South County Chambers of Commerce Candidate Forum and on KVEC’s Dave Congalton Show on Oct. 10 and 11. I support Jim Hill. Caren Ray asks to be the voice for citizens of Arroyo Grande, however, her voice isn’t always consistent.
At the Forum, Caren Ray stated that “to ensure all voices are heard, not just the ‘squeaky wheel,’ requires ‘meeting management’ and in our City Council chambers we manage meetings pretty well.”
I agree, Mayor Hill manages the council meetings well, with respect for all. She also noted that “we do not see that at the sanitation district. We need some leadership over there to make sure all voices are heard and that is not what’s going on in that building.”
I agree again, the sanitation district chair does not manage the meetings well, and does not show respect for all voices.
When the candidates were given one minute to wrap up, Caren Ray stated, “Why me and not the current mayor? We’ve got to have a change at the sanitation district, because the mayor is not effective there anymore.”
I respectfully disagree. Jim Hill has been very effective. He’s extremely knowledgeable, does his homework, and respects all voices.
Dave Congalton said that Mayor Hill feels he has played a major role in cleaning up the sanitation district. In response Caren Ray stated, “I think that it would be fair to say…and I’ve given him credit for that.”
I don’t think you can say he’s played a big part in cleaning up the district if he was ineffective, as she stated at the forum. She then goes on to say that Mayor Hill’s passion is the sanitation district, not Arroyo Grande, because he spent much of his time on the show speaking about the sanitation district, and not Arroyo Grande.
When Caren Ray had one minute at the forum to summarize why she should get your vote, she spent much of it on the sanitation district and how she could be more effective. I respectfully disagree.
Caren Ray also stated that she wouldn’t call herself a ‘watchdog,’ but a public representative. A representative is defined as someone chosen to act and speak on behalf of a wider group. A watchdog is defined as one that guards against loss, waste, theft, or undesirable practices. One can’t represent the public effectively unless they do both.
As Caren Ray stated in her one minute wrap up at the forum, “It all comes down to who do you trust?” I trust Jim Hill to continue to represent his constituents and the public through transparency and by providing effective leadership and oversight.