Write-in Jim Hill wins Arroyo Grande mayor’s seat
November 18, 2014
By KAREN VELIE and DANIEL BLACKBURN
Amid allegations of poor leadership and abuse of power, write-in candidate Jim Hill has scored a stunning victory in the Arroyo Grande mayor’s seat, trumping incumbent Tony Ferrara by 95 votes, according to unofficial results released by the San Luis Obispo Clerk Recorder’s Office on Monday. Ferrara is newly elected to the prestigious post of president of the California League of Cities, a long-sought title he now will be forced to abandon.
Following police officer allegations that Ferrara participated in a cover-up of a city sex scandal, a group of concerned citizens asked Hill to run for mayor. Those citizens then ran a four-week campaign that included papering Arroyo Grande with hundreds of neon yellow hand-made signs.
In response to the campaign, without being approached, local business owners donated approximately $6,000 to elect Hill. Many of those donors accused Ferrara of abusing his position as mayor and financially harming their businesses, campaign staff said.
On July 3, a late night rendezvous at Arroyo Grande City Hall involving two city officials ended abruptly when emergency workers, responding to a 911 call about a missing spouse, discovered City Manager Steve Adams and Community Development Director Teresa McClish in the darkened building.
Two months later, the police officers association took a vote of no confidence against Ferrara and Adams. The officers said city official elected to ignore allegations that Adams had lied to officers, was belligerent when discovered, and had engaged in conduct that had cost other employees their jobs.
After much debate, the city council voted to hire the Sintra Group to investigate the July 3 incident and how it was handled by the city.
At a special meeting on Wednesday, the council will discuss the possible dismissal, discipline, or release of Adams. The council will also review the Sintra Groups investigation report.
According to a summary released Monday, even though multiple employees told the investigators that there was more than a working relationship between McClish and Adams, the investigators could not find substantive evidence of a romantic relationship. They did, however, question Adams’ leadership.
“Adams, in his position as city manager, should have been aware of this perception and should not have perpetuated it on July 3,” the report says.
On Dec. 1, Hill is slated to be sworn in as mayor. As a write-in candidate, Hill’s name did not appear on the ballot. Nevertheless, he won with 3,090 votes while Ferrara received 2,995 votes.
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