Battle to replace Arroyo Grande mayor begins

September 26, 2014
Jim Hill

Jim Hill


Following police officer allegations that Arroyo Grande Mayor Tony Ferrara participated in a cover-up over a city sex scandal, a group of city residents have announced their plans to unseat the controversial mayor.

A group of citizens seeking a “transparent and law-abiding city government,” announced Friday they are supporting write-in candidate Jim Hill for mayor. A write-in candidate’s name does not appear on the ballot, but is a candidate residents may vote for by writing in the person’s name.

Before moving to Arroyo Grande, Hill was twice elected to the Oceano Community Services District Board. He resigned after several of his fellow board members refused to investigate allegations of employee wrongdoing. Those allegations were later proven correct.

Hill also sat on the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District. At that time, he was the only member questioning if it was a conflict of interest for John Wallace to serve as district administrator while giving engineering work to his private firm, the Wallace Group. The San Luis Obispo County Grand Jury later determined there was a conflict of interest.

Hill is an engineer at PG&E’s Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. He has a Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering Technology from Excelsior College and a Juris Doctorate from the University of San Luis Obispo School of Law.

“Jim considers reestablishing trust in local government by providing openness and respectful, fair treatment of citizens and employees alike, in full conformance with the requirements of the Brown Act, to be a top priority,” his campaign flyer says.

While write-in candidates rarely win, candidates such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy won presidential primaries as write in candidates.

For more than two months, city official elected to ignore police officer reports that City Manager Steve Adams had lied to officers, was belligerent to employees, and had engaged in conduct that has cost other employees their jobs.

On July 3, shortly after Community Development Director Teresa McClish’s husband called 911 to report that his wife had not arrived home and he was worried because she has a heart condition, police, after knocking repeatedly, entered and began searching the darkened building. As officers yelled McClish’s name, Adams walked from his office initially lying to officers, saying McClish was not in the building.

After officers noticed a partially-dressed McClish holding her clothes in front of her chest, Adams became angry with officers, according to officer reports.

Ferrara responded by asking the city attorney’s office to conduct an investigation, which officers said was more of an interrogation aimed at silencing the police during salary negotiations.

Local developers and business owners have accused Adams and Ferrara of providing favors to friends through contracts and lax development procedures while pushing others to use their associates for engineering and design services.

For example, a recent vote to give a $70,000 a year, five-year contract to Verdin Marketing to provide Water Conservation Education to the citizens of Arroyo Grande, included discussions of the need to give a developer with close ties to Ferrara a political favor, a council member who did not want their name used said. In this case, the spouse of Mary Verdin had been a private pilot for the Arroyo Grande developer, the city official added.

After a CalCoastNews exclusive about the July 3 incident, Ferrara announced at a Chamber of Commerce meeting that the matter had been “fully investigated” and that “nothing illegal” had occurred. Ferrara and Adams also hinted that officers may have colored their formal reports to benefit current labor negotiations.

That angered officers, who last week issued a vote of “no confidence” in both Adams and Ferrara.

According to city policy, managers cannot engage in intimate relationships with their subordinates. In the past 15 years, the city has paid out more than $1.5 million in sexual harassment claims.

At 3:50 p.m. Friday, Hill is scheduled to discuss his candidacy with KVEC’s Dave Congalton on AM station 920.

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I am willing to work for an “ANY ONE BUT TONY” campaign.

The fact that we can work to elect JIM HILL is an opportunity we simply can NOT pass up!

It will be difficult, but if enough of us sincerely want to change what’s going on at City Hall, (and I don’t mean after hours) NOW is our chance.

Here we go!


There remains only one thing to occur in order to assure Jim’s historic election — the Tribune’s fawning, myopic, entirely predictable endorsement of their favorite South County miscreant, Tony “The Cover” Ferrara.


The Trib’s support of Ferrara can be overcome. That cannot be used as an excuse.


Frances “Mitch” Cooney, the audits were falling behind before Jim came on the OCSD and if you want to talk about track records, let’s see how much your mess at the county cost us all.


And how much have YOU cost us all????? Untold millions $$$$$$$$$.

Oh the hypocrisy!.


Now that Jim Hill is going to run for AG mayor as a write-in candidate, this is a classic opportunity for people to chant his name as Tony the Fringe rides by in the Harvest Festival parade.

Can you imagine the look on Tony’s face as the crowd chants “Jim Hill ! Jim Hill ! Jim Hill !” as Tony rides through the whole parade route?



where is the debate? forum? Let’s go


agree, that would be a good debate, hear what the candidates have to say.

Was there a press release to the T.T. ? Maybe they will pick up the story in the next

two / three weeks ?

Mitch C

Jim Hill would be a total desaster for AG. He wil arive with an agenda, create choas, and then disappear. Check his track record. Before Hill arrived Oceano was a fiscally sound operation … look where they are today. Be afraid, be very afraid.


Since you cannot spell disaster, I assume many people will take your comment with a grain of salt.


can’t spell will OR arrive either



I am glad to keep this in the news and I will vote for JIM because it gets TONY and STEVE out of AG

BUT…. he is not a solution.


It is hard to find the perfect person to run for politics. But, we do need to get rid of the current regime who continues to cover up and protect their buddies.

Give Jim Hill a chance to prove himself. It is only a 2 year position…if you feel he does not perform FOR the PEOPLE, then maybe someone else wants to step later?


Agreed. If elected, I think his calm nature would be a welcomed relief from the intimidation a lot of folks feel from Tony. The city could breathe a deep sigh of relief, quite certain Jim would never glare at anyone from the dais.


I did google him. I admire his passion but when he quit the Oceano board it raised a doubt. If you are in for the long haul, don’t quit. It may not always go your way, but to quit rather than find a way to make it work is not an indication of strength or conviction. What if he does become mayor and finds it too stressful?


Majority Fan is showing common sense. You don’t quit because you don’t get your way.


We are afraid, Francis Mitch Cooney…

We’re afraid of people like yourself, that’s why we’re working to change things.

Now, back to your rock.


Classic Case of be careful what you wish for….

If we can elect HILL, the COUNCIL will definitely GET THEIR PAY BACK

OH the ugliness

But I bet Adams would resign….

OLD JOES gotta go too!


What can we do to help Jim get elected?



There will be folks in the village tomorrow for Harvest Festival,

you will recognize us from the BIG smiles on our faces.



Mike Byrd

Anyone wishing to help may call me, 441-5133. I can put you in touch with the campaign if you want to volunteer or with the citizens committee if you want to make a contribution. The important thing is to do it quickly because absentee ballots go out in a couple of weeks.


Mike, I hope your phone is blowing up!

Mitch C

While there may be a call for an alternate, don’t accept the first bidder that comes along. Interview the two OCSD Board members who quit because of Hill, interview the former utility workers and fire chief he fired, and ask him to finally explain his sudden, unexplained resignation from the OCSD Board. Hill would be a disaster for AG


Mitch you gotta agree it would be PAYBACK to a COUNCIL so afraid of TONY they cannot do the right thing.

Remember, his wife wears the pants and will be the 6 th member of the Council


We are all “the 6th” board/council member…and you should be too. More eyes and ears on issues, the better!


A smart man knows who’s really the stronger sex!


His wife is a well educated woman! She’s strong and stands by her man! I guess that would make a lot of men insecure!


Ferrara & Costello aren’t doing us any favors,

only Steve & Teresa get those..

Out with the old, I with some new.


There are two old sayings people in AG should heed

Give me the devil I know rather than the devil I don’t know.

Out of the frying pan into the fire.


Send in donations and ask for a lawn sign, too.


Call: 805-441-5133




His qualifications and background are far superior(exponentially) to anything sitting on the council now. Get’s my vote.

Mike Byrd

I heard Hill will talk with Congalton today at 3:50p.

Hill is one of the first to challenge how the south county sanitary district was being managed. Ferrara fiercely protected that management which ran consistently in the red while all reserve funds were depleted. Eventually the grand jury investigated, issuing a very critical report. Grover Beach Mayor Debbie Peterson then took up the fight that Hill had begun and the district was reformed. It now operates with a nearly half million dollar surplus.


If what you state about the South San is true, and I believe it is, then it was not merely run inefficiently but there was MAJOR STEALING and CORRUPTION.

You can’t go from spending millions and still infrequently meeting water quality standards to a half million SURPLUS and have consistent positive clean water output.


Think city of bell

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