New SLO County council members sworn in

December 2, 2014
Jim Hill

Jim Hill

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.



  1. agag1 says:

    Congratulations to Arroyo Grnade’s new Mayor, Jim Hill!

    (5) 7 Total Votes - 6 up - 1 down
  2. Pelican1 says:

    Tony, by not showing up today and passing the gavel, you have demonstrated not only to your opponents, but to your supporters as well, what a coward you have become.
    You are morally bankrupt, lacking conscience, and incredibly dysfunctional as well as disrespectful.
    A dark chapter in your life indeed.

    (15) 17 Total Votes - 16 up - 1 down
    • toryrand says:

      well put. Truly a disgusting person. Good Riddance.

      (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  3. T-Bone says:

    Hey Tony, don’t go away mad. Just go away!

    (14) 18 Total Votes - 16 up - 2 down
  4. MaryMalone says:

    QUOTING THE ARTICLE: “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.”


    Ferrara is such a malignant, petulant, cut-and-run weakling.

    (13) 19 Total Votes - 16 up - 3 down
  5. hijinks says:

    Rivoire should not be asked to vote on this his first meeting. If he votes anyway, it smacks of bribery buying votes since he’s received huge campaign contributions from 2 developers who want to revamp the general plan to their liking and his bike coalition has taken another bribe from one of same developers. (See CCN report.)

    Meanwhile, he needs to understand his vote for this will result in the city’s being sued by the state for failure to obey airport safety hazard zoning, and that will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars better spent on other city needs. The city will lose in court, and the money will just be down the drain.

    Even sillier when you consider that none of these areas being rezoned are good places for housing. Just makes no sense, unless you go with the city’s presumption the Chamber knows best, and rubber stamp whatever the Chamber wants. This is the same Chamber that fought tooth and nail against creating Mission Plaza and planting street trees downtown — shows how on top of what’s best they really are! SLOcity has become a very sad, degraded place. We’re back to the 1950s mentality, right in time for the 21st century to unfold before us.

    It’s not a pretty picture, but when a city becomes as corrupt as SLOcity has become, it’s what you get.

    (20) 26 Total Votes - 23 up - 3 down
    • kayaknut says:

      The city isn’t worried about money they got their sales tax increase passed, bring on the lawsuit, it isn’t their money anyway.

      (17) 21 Total Votes - 19 up - 2 down

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