Arroyo Grande residents vote for change

November 5, 2014
Jim Hill

Jim Hill


Amid a scandal and allegations of abuse of power, the Arroyo Grande mayor and two incumbents failed to get 50 percent of the vote.

With 5,041 votes counted, Mayor Tony Ferrara has 2,353 and write-in candidate Jim Hill has 1,967 votes leaving 721 either blank or with the write in candidate’s name without the box checked. In cases where Hill’s name is written in, but the box is not checked, a review of the ballots will result in votes for Hill.

Hill’s campaign was launched several weeks after ballots were mailed out. As a result, Ferrara prevailed in the early mail in ballots, but lost at the polls.

With provisional and late mail in ballots still to be counted, even though Ferrara is in the lead by 9 percent, the race is still undetermined.

With two seats open, Arroyo Grande Council candidate Barbara Harmon received 37.4 percent of the vote garnering one of two seats while incumbent Tim Brown came in second with 32.3 percent of the vote and Joe Costello was third receiving 29.3 percent of the vote.

“After talking to over 1,500 people in Arroyo Grande, people want a change,” Harmon said. “We need to have an environment where you can speak about what you believe to be the right thing to do even if they don’t all agree with you.”


Overall, very good election results for our Citizens of Arroyo Grande. The fact that a write-in candidate received over 45% of the vote is incredible, particularly with such little time between his announcement and the election. Wow. The Harmon and Brown result was hopefully (fingers crossed) the best case scenario, since two would be selected no matter what.

Would be very surprised if there aren’t more developments regarding the on-going issues facing the city. Behind the scenes, there is apparently already at least one very serious concern regarding the second investigation. As soon as legally permissible after the election is finalized, Citizens please move straight into a full-blown Recall effort and get Ferrara out of our town once and for all. Look at the unheard of closeness for the last minute write-in candidacy, and the huge margin of the Charter City defeat. Ferrara might suddenly start acting more flexible and sensitive to the input from our community (aka being more political), but please don’t fall for it. FERRARA WILL GO DOWN on a recall if our Citizens continue to stand united.

There are probably a whole bunch of police officers and other city employees who might be wishing they had collectively gone out off-duty for the last month, to personally speak to our citizens. If they had, Ferrara would likely have been gone right now. Who knows how many blindly cast votes Ferrara got, or how many disengaged voters would have instead voted. If a recall effort gets initiated, it will be interesting to see if our officers and employees start stepping it up. Best of luck to the officers with the second “independent” investigation.

Regarding the resounding defeat of the Charter City measure, talk about a stinging message that was just sent to the entire City Council and City. That’s now 0-4 for all of your latest city ballot efforts. When are you going to start getting the message?? Your Citizens are not happy with you at all, and have not been happy with you for a long time. Get all the pro-city folks you want to stir things up like they have been doing lately (at great detriment to our city), that fact and that message you just got sent from the voters doesn’t change….


As always, SadInsider, you are spot on.

Three things are pretty obvious–

Tony would have suffered defeat IF Jim Hill’s name had appeared on the ballot, the importance of the cover-up remains an issue.

When a recall is initiated it will be imperative for those with information to come forward. There are many, and they know much.

Winning the election outright was within reach. Clearly the need for change was not a call from just a few disgruntled residents, to claim otherwise is absurd—but WE knew that!


The COVER Up…. The famous COVER UP

Why did the MAYOR protect an average City administrator and not place him on Administrative Leave?


I think that a lot of you are overestimating the importance of the “cover-up” to many citizens. Those who are not well-informed about what happened are giving enough consideration to the explanations by Adams, Ferrara and friends and will tend to just forget it as an unimportant controversy — especially as time passes — unless some major new indisputable evidence is found.

Put your focus on some more easily proven flaws of Ferrera. It might be hard to PROVE cronyism in the SCSD scandal but it shows Tony’s incompetence at the least. That incompetence will cost every man, woman and child in AG, GB and Oceano $30 each for the state fines alone. A good case can be made that it also allowed John Wallace to steal multiple millions in operating costs and reserve funds. Most AG voters are likely unaware of exactly what happened there so it will be a newer and more compelling reason to oppose Tony since it will directly involve their own wallets.

Sanitation District politics aren’t usually “sexy” enough to attract attention from most media, but AG is small enough that voter education can take place without that assistance if done intelligently.


I’m still wondering just what Mr Adams reprimand was…a slap on the wrist?

Removal of his office sofa?

Restricted travel for he and McClish, or perhaps the addition of a chaperone?



Tony is going to go down.

Perhaps a resignation in disgrace will be more satisfying to the large group of voters who no longer want Ferrara in.

And his presidency???


We all need to keep the pressure up. Mayor Ferrara needs to understand that THIS is not going to go away, that we are not going to go away, and that things are going to change in AG, whether he goes along with it or not.





Is there any word on the last 721 votes????????


I read something on the County Clerks website it might be Friday ?


uggggg…i can’t wait that long…..


I’m with you. How long can it take to count 721 votes?


The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.” – Joseph Stalin

Mike Byrd

As I understand it, there are hundreds if not thousands of votes yet to be counted. Late voters (i.e. poll voters) preferred Jim Hill by about 58% to 42%. If that ratio holds for those yet to be counted the difference diminishes by half or more.

As far as can be told right now there seem to be 721 ballots which cast no vote for mayor. Presumably, that number will increase as the latest VBM ballots are counted. The million dollar question is, will those be manually scanned in order to determine if they are all blank or if some wrote in Jim Hill but neglected to fill in the bubble thereby causing the machine to think they were blank?

Obviously, 386 votes is a high hurdle to overcome but Jim Hill has already exceeded everybody’s expectations so it will be worth following the developments.


Remember Grasshopper, slow and steady wins the race. Let tony sweat for a while and realize his political future maybe gone in no time.


His political career is done. In Corporate America, we called it the “writing on the wall”.


Don’t underestimate Tony’s ability to talk his way out of this,

we were all supposed to fall (haha) for that tree story, right?

Hear KSBY just did a number on our mute Mayor!

They must smell blood in the water, or want to hear another bedtime tea party story.


Julie Rodewald said the write ins should all be counted by Friday, and the provisional by next week.


As of approx 4:30 there are 2,095 uncounted AG votes.


I hope those 721 ???votes will raise Jim Hill to a win. If or if not, I want to shout a huge Thank you! to Jim for putting himself out there, taking the endeavor seriously, which exacted a message from the citizens that I believe is loud and clear !

This was huge. To accomplish this in 5 weeks time is unfathomable, but speaks volumes to those that occupy those Council seats ! It isn’t a FEW VOCAL MISCREANTS ! AND WE WANT CHANGE ! Starting with transparency. First test of that will be the “results” to the investigation. Remember there are a lot of Eyes watching, and I can’t believe a “reputable firm” would put their reputation on the line for the likes of Steve Adams or Tony Ferrara, I hope I am not being naïve either.

We do have a next step in mind and are ready to implement that step when the time comes. Let’s not forget there is an Active Investigation occurring as we speak. I think (hope) we are going to receive the truer picture with a whole lot more details and additional information about inappropriate actions and behaviors coming out of City Staff and City Council. I want to have an open mind that we will have an honest report and until that can be shown differently I am going to trust the process.

We have to wait 90 days to begin recall, and who knows, the results of the Investigation may show a recall unnecessary, for example a resignation !

Hold onto you hats boys and girls, we are in for a bumpy ride. I


I am highly skeptical that the investigative firm is “reputable” unless that word is taken to mean “reliable at presenting the desired results.” Don’t place a lot of hope on anything coming out of the investigation. I think that the best chance for short term change is in seeing that the rest of the council gets the message that the citizens of AG don’t trust Tony and that they need to take the same stance if they don’t want this term to be their last. If they don’t get the message, I hope that Jim Hill and a couple of new supporters run for office the next time around with the benefit of not having to do a rush job of campaigning.


Even with Mr. Ferrara getting only 46% and Mr. Hill at 39%, regardless on how the remaining 14% change the outcome and should Mr. Ferrara still win by a slim margin, I fully expect him to say something at the next council meeting regarding (in his mind) how the mandate from the voters show they agree with him….. Only he would think that.


I am wondering what the date of the next SPECIAL MEETING is? What time? Location?

I’m thinking Black Friday, the night before Thanksgiving or maybe Christmas Eve.

The independent investigation can be the awakening for the remainder of this Council.

Brown, Guthrie, Harmon: You can be the hero. Take charge and say..


“We are mad as hell and we are not going to take it anymore!”


Caren Ray spent $300K and got 45% of the vote as the incumbent. Jim Hill spent less than $1K and got 45% of the vote after having started his candidacy as a write-in candidate three weeks after mail ins started. Pretty impressive.


Were they running against each other? If not, you are just comparing apples with oranges.


ill forgo a rotten apple for a ripe orange every time.


HI Tory,

I encountered Aaron Ochs on a chat room last night—-yuck! Who IS that guy???


he is a good guy, comon.


yeah, right…..


He is a troll who haunts the Tribune message boards.


Come on Celeste! Do your research!


Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed.


Such is your life. Please share the video of your rotten apple.

Mike Byrd

Yes, Jim spent less than $1k but don’t forget that there was an independent citizens committee that raise and spent funds campaigning for his election.


And we want to thank them for their hard (and obviously effective) work.

Good job Team Hill!


Tony could not be reached for comment last night.Tony missing a chance to talk about how great he is WOW, cat got your tongue Tony?

Let’s see how this works. Jim wins, and Tony is no longer mayor, loses his League of California cities gig, and is no longer seated on the San dist board. That would be a major blow to his huge ego.

And I hear there is going to be yet ANOTHER special meeting. They just don’t get it.

At least the dumb blond can stop calling the police and complaining about signs.

November 17th we will get the win. We are taking our town back!


I would imagine Tony’s delivering doughnuts and threats to those counting votes about now!


I’m guessing he was frustrated by his inability to mess with the mailing of Integrity SLO maile

Sleepy Joe is out! Rejoice! Congrats to Babs ,


I hope King Tony is handed his head but if he does squeek by I hope a recall will be mounted because it will undoubtedly succeed if the people are allowed some time to digest what has happened in the village.

Just think, Jim Hill entered the fray very late and still garnered a huge accomplishment for a write in campaign.

The loss of Ferraras sidekick Caryn Ray is very telling about how the south county is perceiving the crap going on in the village.

Dont back down … Step on the gas !!!


For a full understanding of what a huge accomplishment Jim Hill’s three-week vote-in candidacy is, visit Wikipedia’s entry on the succes of presidential, senatorial and congressional write-in campaigns throughout American history.


I like the Talkeetna, Alaska Mayor, one who’s never once raised taxes in 15 years as of 2012! He was a write-in candidate, “Stubbs the Cat”


Jim dam near got 50% of the votes when probably 25% had already been cast by the time the write in campaign got started. I think that says Lame Duck with respect to Ferrara louder than any miscreant can exclaim.


I think we are going to prevail here—-as the campaign reved up, peopled reved up too–I remain hopeful for change sooner rather than later.


Heard the KSBY gal said he didn’t respond to repeated requests for a comment.

Maybe he was sick…

I’d be sick too, if my Charter initiative (which I supported) went down in flames,

My ‘ole buddy Joe (who I supported) got the boot,

My once gal pal Caren Ray (who I really supported) couldn’t hold onto her seat,

A Write-In Candidate beat me out at EVERY polling place yesterday…

AND I still had to deal with the citizens, who are no doubt still angry because the issues that got this whole ball rolling STILL EXIST!

Then of course there is the matter of that ongoing investigation and the vote of NO Confidence by the Police.

Yeah, that would be enough to make anyone sick.


Well said. Next council meeting ought to be fun, I wonder if tony will try to bring in the national guard to intimidate us.

I remember someone saying Tony said ” they are a small group of malcontent people, I can get them under control”.

He is so arrogant he just does not realize the people don’t trust him any more.


Just in case you are reading this Tony, just know that you cannot control me, my vote, my words, or my actions—I have done nothing illegal. On an earlier post someone said that Tony had mentioned libel and slander suits were possible—I wouldn’t bet on it—that is a hard road to hoe and one that will likely end nowhere.

I think it speaks volumes that he is scared to hear what the citizens have to say and that he feels that any statement that calls him or the council and city management out on the carpet could be construed as slander or libel. He needs to stope listening to Carmel (who also needs to be replaced by the way); he gives really bad legal advice.


Do you really believe he even knows or cares who you are?


I faced him several times during council meetings MF—so yes, I do think he knows who I am—does he care? I don’t know and truly don’t care either way—I am sure that if I knew you, I would feel the same.


That is your main weakness… prejudging people.


Your weakness is is that I most people on this post could care less what you think about pretty much anything…given your affinity for following the leader (King Tony) and his crew and being okay with their inability to lead this city…


Looks like many of the cities Carmel advises are in trouble. Funny….


No, not funny. Not just a coincidence either.

Telling…and worrisome.


And don’t forget, “not going to take this crap from anyone”, Lordy, is it any wonder folks are malcontent?

I trust that kind of attitude is certain to win Jim Hill some votes!