Leaders emerge in SLO County mayoral, council races

Carla Wixom


Clear leaders emerged at the conclusion of election night in most San Luis Obispo County mayoral and city council races.

One incumbent mayor will apparently lose his reelection bid, while other mayors running for reelection are largely winning handily, according to the latest tally released overnight by the San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder’s Office. It is unclear how many votes are yet to be counted.

Carla Wixom, the owner of Carla’s County Kitchen, appears poised to unseat incumbent Morro Bay Mayor John Headding. Wixom has received 59% of the vote. Headding has garnered 40.93%. Wixom’s lead increased slightly as results came in on election night.

The public in Morro Bay has been divided over proposed off-shore wind farms and a battery storage area. Headding supports the construction of hundreds of wind turbines off the coast of Morro Bay while Wixom has voiced concerns over environmental issues related to wind farms.

In Arroyo Grande, incumbent Mayor Caren Ray garnered 65.31% of the vote. Gaea Powell, who runs a small nonprofit, is in second place with 24.37%, followed by real estate appraiser Dale Hanson with 10.25%.

Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin appears headed toward reelection, though his lead over challenger Michael Rivera was shrinking overnight. Martin leads Rivera 56.78% to 43.12%.

In San Luis Obispo, appointed incumbent Mayor Erica Stewart is winning in a landslide. Stewart has received 70% of the vote. Retired firefighter Richard Orcutt is in second place with 15.15%, followed by entrepreneur Jeffery Specht with 12.93% and welder Donald Hedrick with 1.80%.

The Grover Beach mayoral race pits Councilwoman Karen Bright against former county supervisor candidate Stacy Korsgaden. Bright leads Korsgaden 56.47% to 43.49%.

Among the various council races, the Pismo Beach City Council race was rife with mudslinging. Incumbent Councilwoman Mary Ann Reiss, who was the target of two anonymous attack ads, is leading a five-person race for a pair of council seats.

Mary Ann Reiss

Reiss has received 27.88% of the vote. Real estate broker Stacy Inman is in second place with 24.30%, followed by retired border patrol agent Kevin Kreowski, who has 20.69%.

Elections officials left out Kreowski’s candidate statement from the ballot while Inman was given two ballot statements. Kreowski could choose to contest the election results if he does not overtake Inman.

Former Pismo Beach Councilman and ex-California Coastal Commissioner Erik Howell attempted to regain his lost seat on the council. But, Howell is in fourth place with 18.88% of the vote. Debora Ann Lossing is last with 8.19%.

Arroyo Grande has two candidates competing for its District 4 council seat. James Robert Guthrie is defeating Ben Franco 64.73% to 35.13% in that council race.

In Atascadero, incumbent councilwomen Heather Newsom and Susan Funk will keep their seats. In a three-way race for two seats, Newsom has 43.37% of the vote, followed by Funk with 42.86%. Challenger Bret Heinemann has garnered 13.49%.

Like Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach has two candidates competing for a single seat. In Grover Beach’s District 2 race, incumbent Councilman Daniel Rushing is defeating retired dentist Ron Arnoldsen 59.93% to 40.07%.

In Morro Bay, homemaker Robin “Zara” Landrum will likely win a council seat. Landrum has 24.82% of the vote. Business owner Cyndee Edwards, in second place, is just 62 votes ahead of server Sarah Smith Robinson. Edwards has received 22.06% of the vote, while Robinson has garnered 20.89%. Marketer Casey Cordes and attorney Dave Duringer are in fourth and fifth place with 17.51% and 14.71% respectively.

Lastly, San Luis Obispo has a four-person race for two council seats. Appointed incumbent Councilwoman Michell Shoresman received 35.76% of the vote and will keep her seat on the council.

Emily Francis, a teacher, garnered 31.77% of the vote and will likely join Shoresman on the council. Attorney Joe Benson has received 19.25% of the vote, followed by businessman James Papp with 13.04%.