By KAREN VELIE
Who are the candidates running for public office in San Luis Obispo County, and which races are likely to make a change in local governmental policies?
The Atascadero City Council is likely to remain primarily unchanged, with Mayor Heather Moreno running unchallenged.
Three candidates are running for two open council seats: incumbents Susan Funk, Heather Newsom and Writer Bret Heinemann. An ongoing lawsuit accuses both incumbents of violating city regulations in their battle to stop a man from developing his property.
Mayor Caren Ray, a high school teacher in Santa Maria, has two challengers: Dale Hanson, a real estate appraiser, and Gaea Powell, who runs a small nonprofit.
With district elections in place, the city will have at least two newly elected officials following the November election. Newcomer Kathleen Secrest, an attorney, is running unopposed for the new District 1 council seat.
In District 4, newcomer Ben Franco, a small business owner, is running against former councilman James Guthrie.
There are two candidates for mayor of Grover Beach: Councilwoman Karen Bright and business owner Stacy Korsgaden.
Current Mayor Jeff Lee is termed out. During his tenure, the FBI raided Lee’s home amid an investigation into corruption tied to convicted marijuana mogul Helios Dayspring and former SLO County Supervisor Adam Hill. While under investigation for soliciting bribes, Hill committed suicide.
Candidate Bright served on the city council from 2008 through 2016. She won another term in 2020. Hill touted Bright, a Democrat, as his number one supporter.
In 2020, Korsgaden, a Republican, lost to Hill by 2 percentage points in a run at Hill’s SLO County supervisor seat. She recently lost to Supervisor Dawn Ortiz-Legg by 28 percentage points after attending Trump’s Jan. 6, 2021 speech.
Incumbent Robert Robert is running unopposed for the new District 1 council seat.
In District 2, retired dentist Ron Arnoldson is challenging incumbent Daniel Rushing.
Morro Bay Mayor John Heading is facing one challenger, Carla Wixom, the owner of Carla’s Country Kitchen.
Six newcomers are running for two seats on the council: Marketer Casey Cordes, attorney David Duringer, small business owner Cyndee Edwards, homemaker Robin Landrum, server Sarah Smith Robinson and Deanna Sandoval.
Mayor Steve Martin is facing one challenger, Michael Rivera, a medical industry businessman.
Incumbent John Hamon is running unopposed for the District 1 council seat. In District 2, newcomer Chris Bausch, a business consultant and school board trustee, is running unopposed.
Mayor Ed Waage is running unopposed for the mayor seat.
Five people are running for two seats on the council, including incumbent Councilwoman Mary Ann Reiss, who has served on the council since 1996.
Also vying for a seat on the council are retired border patrol agent Kevin Carl Kreowski, attorney Stacy Inman, real estate broker and general contractor Deborah Lossing and attorney and former councilman Erik Howell.
San Luis Obispo
Mayor Erica Stewart is facing three challengers: entrepreneur Jeff Specht, retired firefighter Richard Orcutt and recycler Don Hedrick.
There are four candidates running for two seats on the council, including appointed incumbent Michelle Shoresman.
Also vying for a seat on the council are businessman James Papp, attorney Joe Benson and Emily Francis, a teacher.
San Simeon Community Services District
Three people are running unopposed for three open seats: incumbent Michael Donahue, attorney Karina Tiwana and Jacqueline Diamond, a retired school district administrator.
All three candidates have voiced concerns over the current administration, Grace Environmental Services, and the district’s legal counsel, Jeff Minnery. After the three candidates are sworn in, it is likely there will be major changes in the embattled district.