New SLO County council members sworn in
December 2, 2014
Two newly elected mayors took their oaths of office in San Luis Obispo County Monday, as did a new San Luis Obispo councilman who holds the swing vote on a controversial development plan.
Swearing in ceremonies for mayors and council members took place Monday in the cities of Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach and San Luis Obispo. Both Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach swore in new mayors, although Grover Beach’s mayor has served in the post before.
Jim Hill, who defeated longtime incumbent Tony Ferrara while running as a write-in candidate, took over as head of the Arroyo Grande council. Newly elected councilwoman Barbara Harmon joined Hill, as well as reelected councilman Tim Brown in the ceremony.
Ferrara, whose term was supposed to conclude Monday, did not attend the meeting. He resigned Friday, refusing to pass the gavel to Hill, as city tradition calls for.
In Grover Beach, John Shoals assumed the mayoral post. Shoals served on the council for 10 years and became the city’s first elected mayor in 2008, but he was termed out of running for reelection in 2012.
Shoals became eligible again this year, and he defeated incumbent mayor Debbie Peterson in the November election. Newly elected councilwomen Barbara Nicolls and Mariam Shah, who faced no opposition in the election, took the oath of office with Shoals.
During San Luis Obispo’s swearing in ceremony, new councilman Dan Rivoire replaced outgoing Councilwoman Kathy Smith, who opted not to seek reelection. Rivoire is expected to vote in favor of plan to override the county airport commission and allow developer Gary Grossman to build high-density housing on the property currently owned by rancher Ernie Dalidio.
If Rivoire votes in favor of the development proposal, he will provide the fourth vote needed to issue initial approval for high-density projects planned by Grossman and a couple other developers in Southern San Luis Obispo.
On Tuesday evening, Pismo Beach will swear in new councilwoman Sheila Blake, who won a close four-way race in which incumbent Kris Vardas finished last. Shelley Higginbotham will return as Pismo Beach’s mayor after defeating challenger Kevin Kreowski by two votes and surviving a recount.
Current Paso Robles councilman Steve Martin will take the oath of office for mayor Tuesday evening, and newly elected councilman Jim Reed will join him in the ceremony. The Paso Robles council must then decide how it will fill Martin’s vacant seat.
The council is expected to appoint one of three losers from a close five-way race for two council seats. Outgoing mayor Duane Picanco finished third in the council race, just 14 votes behind Reed.