Democrat to challenge Arnold in District 5 race

September 14, 2015
Eric Michielssen

Eric Michielssen

A Pozo rancher has announced he will challenge San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Debbie Arnold, also a Pozo farmer, for the District 5 seat on the board of supervisors.

Eric Michielssen, currently an organic farmer, announced his candidacy during a County Democratic Party Labor Day picnic in Arroyo Grande. Arnold, who has enjoyed support from much of the local agricultural community, is a conservative Republican.

Michielssen said during his Labor Day speech that he is a small farmer, and Arnold is a big farmer. He also said he is better qualified to oversee a large budget.

Michielssen previously worked for 17 years as a broker, asset manager and counselor at People’s Self-Help Housing. He has also worked as a school teacher and as a developer, as well as in a role for a union while teaching, Michielssen said during the speech.

The Democratic candidate particularly takes issue with a vote Arnold cast earlier this year in favor of a proposed Santa Margarita rock quarry. Arnold cast one of the two votes in support of the project, which the supervisors rejected.

The quarry would produce up to 500,000 tons of rock a year on a property along Highway 58 about three miles outside of Santa Margarita. Opponents argue it would create too much truck traffic and noise.

Public opinion on the project was split.

District 5 consists of Atascadero, California Valley, Creston, Garden Farms, Pozo, Santa Margarita and parts of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and Templeton. CalCoastNews reported earlier this year that Republicans edge Democrats in the district by about 3,974 registered voters.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

The truck traffic will not go down in Santa Margarita, quarries or not, because we still have Hanson’s Quarry, Navajo Quarry, a growing amont of distributor’s trucks, a trucking company that was forced to move into town, construction of new homes on a vast amount of land with existing entitlements and the list goes on. Think about this for a minute– Hwy 101 is humming with traffic and roadway crossings, more than in Santa Margarita’s Hwy 58. Could these Hwy 101 people stop Atascadero, Templeton or Paso Robles from growing because they need to dart out in front of 70 mph traffic to cross? Those who live between Santa Margarita and SLO are screwed, they need major road improvements (creation) yet Hwy 58 is not allowed to afford a new vendor that will supply a needed option, go figure? I supported the new quarry proposal for the obvious technical reasons, totally accessible from a State Hwy, an allowable use and a designated resource extraction area. The needed third vote, Mecham, did not support the project because of a short stretch of Hwy 58 curves, the other two Supvs that voted No just want to side with re-election votes, their other resources are available today and are just that short sided. Santa Margarita gets hind tit when it come to Caltrans maintanence / remedies, so the selfish short sightedness prevailed for now but thankfully I get to vote again for Debbie Arnold, a Supv with right in mind and is surrounded with pragmatic supporters. Yes I do support Santa Margarita too but Caltrans is the owner of our troubles. This is a much bigger State-wide discussion.