OPINION by LEA RIGO
I considered running for Mayor of Arroyo Grande because I disagree with the current administration on a number of issues. I don’t believe diverse viewpoints are welcome at the council and I don’t like the condescending and hypocritical attitudes people experience from the mayor when expressing them. Not coincidentally, staff morale is at a very low point and we’ve recently had resignations of many key employees including the city manager.
Change requires not only for three people to accept the challenge, which I am willing to do, but for the whole community to realize there’s a problem and understand that diverse viewpoints make the decision making process stronger. After obtaining the registration papers to run for mayor, I received an email from Caren Ray Russom, the current mayor and candidate for a second term.
She indicated that if I were to run, two things would happen. First, my kids and my husband would be put through “ugliness” that would “air out all your dirty laundry for everyone to see and attach to your business.”
Not my issues – my kids, my husband, and my business. “It will put you and your family out into the ugly world of politics, which I assure you is nasty beyond your wildest dreams.”
Since I would only be running against her, I have to take that as a direct threat regarding her own tactics, which I’ve seen in her previous campaigns. Instead of running on issues, my family and business would be maliciously attacked.
Second, Ms. Ray Russom stated that if I didn’t run, taxpayers would be saved the $28,000 cost of holding an election because all the incumbents would be unopposed. How hypocritical! One of her self-serving acts after being elected was to raise the mayor’s pay and that of the council members at taxpayer expense. Council members take thousands of taxpayer dollars to pay their health insurance costs because they think the established stipends are insufficient for their part time efforts.
Ray Russom only agreed to pay taxpayers back the $18 for a shot of whiskey she charged on a city expense account after a local activist spotted it and complained. Nasty politics? Ray Russom voted to spend $100,000 of taxpayer funds to have the previous mayor “investigated” as she was planning to run against him. Concern for the taxpayers? Seriously? She’s only seems concerned to save herself the cost of a campaign.
Ms. Ray Russom is as concerned for the taxpayers as she is for civil and democratic process; her disdain for all is obvious. I’ve decided not to run for mayor at this time. Ray Russom may win in Arroyo Grande, but taxpayers, democracy, and civil discourse are the losers.