Opportunities in voting for Arroyo Grande’s City Council candidates
September 12, 2016
OPINION by LEANN AKINS
Voting is an economic decision because the act of voting can be directly tied to the idea of opportunity costs.
Every choice we make involves the idea of “opportunity cost.” Whether we choose one ice cream flavor over another, to spend time watching a movie or reading a book, or choose one candidate over another in an election, our decision leads to choosing one thing over the next best alternative. The cost involved is that once you make a choice, you give up the other choice.
Most people view opportunity cost as a negative concept because it relates to having limited resources. The bottom line is that scarcity exists and because it exists, we can’t have everything we want, and in some instances, not everything we need. As a result, scarcity dictates that we make a choice. Others may not view opportunity cost with a positive lens because they don’t like the idea of having to give up something in order to have something else.
In voting, it is difficult to find the perfect candidate (the idea of scarcity), so we vote for the next best option (opportunity cost). The field of candidates for Arroyo Grande’s City Council election is much deeper than it has been in the recent past; five people are running for two available council seats. How do you decide which candidate is the next best alternative based on the field of candidates?
One option is to look at past voting records. Those are easy to obtain by reading the minutes of prior council meetings posted on the Arroyo Grande City Council Agenda webpage.
Two of the candidates have voting records having held appointed council seats and an appointed supervisor seat in the past and currently. Mrs. Barneich recently voted to approve a budget for the fiscal year of 2016-2017 which runs at a deficit. This budget overspends by $300,000.
I am running to ensure that Arroyo Grande adopts budget and spending practices that are fiscally responsible.
Another option is to look at items they support outside of their voting record.
For instance, three of the current council members, Mrs. Barneich being one, use the health insurance plan through the city. The total cost involved in this is roughly $36,000 per year.
Given that city council members are not employees of the city, should the citizens of Arroyo Grande pay for city council members’ insurance benefits? Even though the council members may not have voted for this benefit to be in place, they are supporting its existence by using this benefit. If elected, I will make a motion to eliminate city insurance as a benefit for city council members.
Additionally, the public can look at items that were not supported by current candidates in their prior positions on the council. The San Luis Obispo South County Sanitation District, the spill in Dec. 2010, and the subsequent lawsuit would be one such example.
Neither Barneich, nor Caren Ray found reason to support viewpoints or findings of the issues at the plant, that a full forensic audit was needed, and that the lawsuit against the Water Board was a waste of time and taxpayer money.
Ms. Ray questioned the validity of the SLO County Grand Jury report and did not feel it was necessary to pursue additional and more rigorous investigations stating that all recommendations made by the Grand Jury were being addressed and that the issues were a matter of public perception.
Lack of asking tough questions and action assisted in the accumulation of a 1.9 million dollar fine, when we could have initially paid $400,000 for the spill. Elected officials are tasked with being good stewards of the taxpayer money. This lack of support of the Grand Jury report and the lack of recognition the lawsuit was detrimental to the ratepayers does not support solid examples of good stewardship.
Given your choice at the ballot box means that you give up another choice, it is important you know what choices you are giving up (good or bad) and determine the best candidate to represent you and the City of Arroyo Grande.
I respectfully ask for your vote in the Arroyo Grande City Council election. If you would like to connect with me directly, please call me at 805-710-0406.